Day Petunia Had Piglets in the Strawberry Patch, The

18 January 2023

The Day Petunia Had Piglets in the Strawberry Patch (Adventures of the Barnyard Boys, Book 3)
by M Larson, Illustrated by FX and Color Studio
Published by M Larson Books
Review by Shelley A. Leedahl
$13.99 ISBN 978-1-7780956-2-7

How delightful to read The Day Petunia Had Piglets in the Strawberry Patch, the third illustrated children’s book in The Adventures of the Barnyard Boys Book Series by rural Saskatchewan writer and environmental consultant Melanie Larson. This glossy-covered and colourfully-illustrated softcover once again features six-year-old narrator Finn and his brothers Owen and Dez, and reveals a happy family in an enviable rural country setting—ah, those bright, sweeping prairie skies—amid a menagerie of farm animals. As with her previous titles, Larson’s subtle humour emanates from easy-to-read pages in this well-produced book, and some details in the full-bleed illustrations also amuse.

The boys’ latest adventure concerns searching the farmyard for their adopted pig, Petunia. Petunia’s no ordinary hog … she’s a Kunekune pig: “She has a very short snout and feeds on grass, like a cow or horse.” On page one, readers learn that Petunia formerly lived at a petting zoo, but “Her owners couldn’t keep her anymore because she was getting too big.” Kudos to Larson: I didn’t initially perceive that this largesse might be a clever clue to the porcine plot.

It’s admirable how Larson puts a lot of proverbial “eggs in the basket” with her books. Aside from the boys’ adventure, this is also a counting book: as the children search for the missing Kunekune, they encounter their family’s litany of working and domestic animals, and each time discover that the animals have multiplied, ie: Dolly the donkey has a “brand-new baby donkey,” and at the goat pen, Dez finds “three goat kids with their daddy, but no Petunia the pig.” The illustration that accompanies the latter page shows the boys’ barefoot mother doing goat yoga—Downward Dog, to be specific—in the grass with a kid on her back.

Brother Owen checks the stable and again, no Petunia, but he does find the “cat Rosie with six baby kittens!” The image here shows Owen watching the kittens cavort while he reclines on golden bales; the use of yellow, orange and gold is found on several pages, and it echoes the “sunny” nature of this story.

Larson’s also included an activity at the end of the book: young readers are reminded that “Each animal has a job to do on the farm,” and invites children to flip back and locate the llamas, cattle, chickens, etc. and to consider their various jobs. Even the cats and dogs play important roles for farming families, which is something town or city children may not be aware of.

I was curious to learn more about Kunekune pigs. A quick Google search unveiled that they are “a small breed of domestic pig from New Zealand” with great personalities! They “flop over for a belly rub at just a simple touch” and “get along well with other animals.” (Wikipedia)

Readers may wish to check out Larson’s other titles, including Count Them! 50 Tractor Troubles. And on the subject of counting … eight is significant in this new book’s conclusion. Can you guess why?


No Comments

Comments are closed.