________________ CM . . . . Volume VII Number 9 . . . . January 5, 2001

cover Piglets Don't Watch Television. (Abby and Tess, Pet Sitters, 3).

Trina Wiebe. Illustrated by Marisol Sarrazin.
Montreal, PQ: Lobster Press (Distributed by Raincoast Books), 2000.
90 pp., pbk., $6.95.
ISBN 1-894222-16-4.

Subject Headings:
Pet sitting-Juvenile fiction.
Potbellied pigs as pets-Juvenile fiction.

Grades 2 - 4 / Ages 7 - 9.

Review by Linda Aksomitis.

**1/2 /4


Prissy snorted again and Abby ducked to avoid her wet snout. "Quiet Tess, they'll hear you," she whispered frantically.

Tess cocked her head again. "I can still hear them," she whispered back.

Prissy slipped out of Tess's arms and trotted down the hall, then stopped and looked back. She seemed to be waiting for them to follow her. She snorted again and disappeared into the kitchen.

"Let's get out of here," Abby said, keeping her voice low. She struggled to her feet. "Before something really bad happens."

"We can't leave Prissy," whimpered Tess.

"Prissy will be fine," Abby said, grabbing Tess by the arm. "We're the ones in danger. C'mon, let's go!"

image Piglets Don't Watch Television, by Trina Wiebe, is part of the "Abby and Tess Pet-Sitters" series. Two sisters of very different natures share a passion for pets, but they live in an apartment block that doesn't allow animals. For a solution, they start a pet sitting business.

      The book is just ninety pages long, with large easy-to-read print. I found the cover art simple, giving no clues as to what might happen in the story. The black and white sketches inside the book were well-done, however, and did add to the book's enjoyment.

      In Piglets Don't Watch Television, despite the fact that Abby, the older sister, was sure the animal they were to pet-sit was a puppy (because she heard it bark while speaking on the telephone to the owner, Ms. Fitzpatrick), it is, in fact, a pot bellied pig. Tess, who pretends she is a dog a great deal of the time, is thrilled when she hears about the job.

      When it turns out that Prissy is a pig, Abby must do a lot of research for the three day assignment. Once they begin, the girls are mystified by some of the events that happen. Abby is sure that someone is sneaking into Ms. Fitzpatrick's house, but Tess believes a ghost or magic is the explanation for the television's being turned on each morning and the mess everywhere.

      While the plot of Piglets Don't Watch Television moves along quickly, the mystery, itself, is very predictable. Beginning chapter book readers wouldn't likely find this a problem, although the language could be challenging. Wiebe uses a fairly large, mature vocabulary, including expressions such as: "whimpered plaintively," "rational explanation," and "nodded emphatically," which may detract from young readers' sense of accomplishment and enjoyment of the text.

      One noticeable absence from the book was an effort to create a clear setting. The story apparently takes place in a city somewhere since there are apartment buildings and the children walk several blocks to Ms. Fitzpatrick's home. It is warm enough for them to enjoy being sprayed with water outside, but there is no hint of the season. Also missing were the sights and the smells children might expect to encounter. While this could have been a deliberate omission in order to make the story more universal, I found it left me wondering.

      Since the book is part of an intended 12 part series, it was also no surprise that there was little character development. Both girls seem quite one-dimensional, and the parents each appear in only one brief scene. At the end of the story, an attempt was made to have Abby change, but, since it had never been part of the plot, it was contrived and unbelievable.

      Piglets Don't Watch Television would appeal to young readers. Along with the other books in the series, and the website (http://www.abbyandtess.com/) which offers several interactive features, the book has a place in a child's home library. Beyond supplementary reading, it would only be useful in the classroom if there were an interest in pot bellied pigs.

Recommended with Reservations.

Saskatchewan's Linda Aksomitis worked in K-12 school libraries for a decade before becoming an author herself. She also currently works in the field of online education.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364