Little Pig Joins the Band
David Hyde Costello, author
David Hyde Costello has worked as a scenic artist for motion pictures and the stage. David has also painted and created puppets for theatrical productions. He is the author of Here They Come! and I Can Help. David lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.
Read more about David.
- CCBC Choices 2012
- Bank Street College of Education's Best Children's Books of the Year
Costello’s winsome tale explores the travails of being the youngest and the littlest.
When Little Pig, a.k.a. Jacob, and his brothers and sisters visit their grandpa, they break out his old marching-band instruments. Little Pig, to his dismay, discovers he’s just too little to play the drum or trumpet, let alone the trombone or tuba. When his siblings can’t get their playing or marching act together—hey presto!—a drum major is born, small of stature but packing a big whistle. Much of the book’s amiability derives from the artwork, sure-handed watercolors that are active but not busy, with (most of) the pigs having a merry old time trooping about, tooting and pounding away, collapsing in a heap. Yet the words add a considerable measure to the pleasure. Costello has built a story under the arching narrative, a body of asides that add color commentary: “Do we have any piccolos?” asks Little Pig. “There’s a jar in the fridge, behind the olives,” replies his distracted sister. “A kazoo?” “Gesundheit.” And when Little Pig does succeed—wielding his baton, he is now Jacob in his siblings’ eyes—he takes it with humility: “You can call me Little Pig.”
Humor lifts the story from a simple tale of woe to transcendence.
"Sometimes Little Pig didn't like being little, or even being called Little Pig," writes Costello, as his diminutive hero, taking up what readers can assume is his usual position at the distant end of a family procession, vainly attempts to remind his oblivious relations: "My name is Jacob!" Things only get worse when the family puts together an impromptu band from Grandpa's collection of instruments: when Little Pig asks whether there's something smaller to play, like a piccolo, an elder cheerfully remarks, "There's a jar in the fridge, behind the olives." But the ensemble gives Little Pig his opening when they prove utterly unable to coordinate their movements: seeing them colliding and collapsed in a pig pile on the floor, Little Pig "knew what the problem was--the band needed a leader!" Costello (I Can Help) isn't pioneering new ground with this story of how a family's littlest member asserts his competence, but the combination of lovely and understated text, sly watercolors, and a protagonist who knows in his heart that he's right make the premise feel fresh and funny.
What makes pigs so cute? There's been a spate of stories about adorable porkers lately, and this makes one more. Little Pig, aka Jacob, is excited when he comes home and finds his siblings are taking out Grandpa's old instruments. Jacob wants to play, but he is too small for the drums, the trombone, and the trumpet. After watching the others march around with their instruments, he realizes nothing in the music or the movements is coordinated. Jacob knows a band leader is what's required, and he is just the piggy to take up the job. A series of amusing scenes follow, in which Jacob tries to corral his relatives and turn them into a marching band. Sprightly watercolor-and-ink drawings are the draw here, as Jacob and family alternate being the stars of the scenes. Jacob's asides are as fun as the family band.
School Library Journal
Little Pig would like to be called by his given name, Jacob, as he doesn't appreciate the way his nickname is a constant reminder of his diminutive size. One day, while visiting their grandfather, he and his four older siblings come across a box filled with Grandpa's old marching-band paraphernalia. Finding the tuba, trombone, drum, and trumpet too large for him, Little Pig looks around for something smaller, such as a kazoo or harmonica. He can't find anything his size and feels left out of the fun. As he sits watching and listening to his brothers and sisters play the various instruments, he realizes that they don't know the first thing about being a marching band. He retrieves a whistle, baton, and red cap from the box and takes charge of the motley crew. Under his direction, the foursome, plus Grandpa, are soon marching in step and playing a tune together. Being at the head instead of the customary tail end makes him proud, and he realizes that even the littlest among us can make a big impact. The author's appealing ink and watercolor illustrations vary in size and will hold readers' attention as they adeptly convey the piglet's emotional journey.
The youngest child in the family often feels like a tag-a-long, and that the older brothers and sisters get to do the fun stuff. Jacob is the youngest of five children. Everyone calls him Little Pig. When Jacob and his siblings visit their Grandpa, they pull out an assortment of his old marching band instruments. "Little Pig looked for something he could play," but he discovers that he is too small to hold the drum, so his big sister Margie takes possession of it. He is also too little to hold an elongated trombone, an enormous brass tuba or even a trumpet.
Costello's clean line ink and watercolor illustrations express with quiet humor the youngest child's dismay at being "too little to join the band." Little Pig's remarks appear in a different smaller typeface, indicating that no one else hears him. When he asks, "Do we have any piccolos?," for instance, Margie answers, "There's a jar in the fridge, behind the olives." Little Pig's big brothers and sisters play the instruments, but they do so in a disorganized, discordant manner, and topple over each other because they're not paying attention. Little Pig discovers he can contribute: he can lead the band. Music teachers may quibble that children would not instantly be competent music makers, but we can suspend disbelief for this quiet tale of the littlest pig finding his niche in a family venture.
An uplifting tale with a gentle lesson about how even the smallest member of the band has something to contribute.
The Horn Book Magazine
When his older brothers and sisters get out Grandpa's marching band instruments, Little Pig, who isn't happy about his size or his nickname ("My name is Jacob!"), feels left out. He's not big enough to actually play anything, so he's stuck watching his siblings have all the fun. Costello's (I Can Help, rev. 5/10) well-paced story features a small hero who doesn't let his physical stature stop him from thinking big. The sprightly ink and watercolor illustrations match the upbeat text's tempo and include comic asides to help advance the narrative. As the sidelined Little Pig watches the mayhem ("Aren't you all supposed to be marching together?" "Shouldn't you all be playing the same thing?"), a four-pig pile-up helps him see what the band is missing: a leader. Young readers will likely recognize Little Pig's predicament and give his take-charge solution a big hand.
ISBN: 978-1-60734-565-7 EPUB
ISBN: 978-1-60734-307-3 PDF
Page count: 32
81/2 x 91/2