With its retro, appealingly soft-edged digital art, this is the engaging story of how a piglet becomes the “goat nanny” of the title.
Piney the piglet lives inside a farmhouse with his human “mom,” who bakes and vacuums but who also rescues animals, especially goats. At first “mom” just wants him to enjoy life, but Piney longs to have a job just like everyone else. “The chickens ate the bugs and the goats chomped up the weeds.” After trying to help with household chores (Piney becomes entangled in the vacuum cord), he finally finds his special niche. There’s a new goat who needs comforting, a task that Piney apparently can take on. Tiny Prospect grows strong under Piney’s care. When he moves outside, Chibs (with “curled up” legs) and Lyla (with “three legs”) show up and receive the same nurturing care. Howarth’s illustrations are bright and uncomplicated, depicting smiling animals in a somewhat idealized farm setting; readers never see “mom’s” face, just pale hands and ankles. In a short photo essay at the book’s end, Piney’s story is revealed as “The True Story.” The combination of a picture book with the factual story works to show young children how true experiences can be turned effectively into stories.
The loving encounters among animals of different species (and Lauricella’s real-world endeavor to help animals with special needs) are great examples to help children develop empathy. (Picture book. 4-6)