HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage
Author: Chris Kurtz
Illustrator: Jennifer Black Reinhardt
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books, 2013
Related websites: http://www.chriskurtzbooks.com (author), http://www.hmhbooks.com (publisher)
Language level: 2
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9 and up
Rating: 4 stars (GOOD)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Kurtz, Chris. The Adventures of a South Pole Pig: A Novel of Snow and Courage (published in 2013 by Harcourt Children’s Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116). Flora the pig lives with her mother and younger brothers on a farm in a pigpen which she considers nothing more than a cage. Luna the farm cat visits and tells Flora all about the outside world. Flora wants to leave the pen and go on an adventure. One day she accidentally learns how to move a broken board and escapes. In her exploration of the outside world, she sees a group of sled dogs led by Oscar practicing for an Antarctic expedition. As she is racing alongside the team, she decides right then and there that more than anything else in the world she wants to be a South Pole sled pig.
Unfortunately, Flora is recaptured and put back in the pigpen. However, amazingly enough, not long afterwards, she is taken from the farm and her family and finds herself headed to Antarctica on board a ship where she makes friends with Oscar, the ship’s cat Sophia, and a boy named Aleric. She even gets to know the captain. But what is her purpose on the expedition? Is it possible that she might really realize her dream of becoming a sled pig? If so, why does the cook Amos keep calling her his little sausage and his bacon-maker? And is there anything that Flora can do to help out when they are shipwrecked?
The Adventures of as South Pole Pig is an exciting fantasy adventure for preteen readers. On one occasion, the cook is said to have cursed, but no actual curse words are used in the book, although a couple of colloquial euphemisms like “dabnabbit” and “confound it” occur. Also, there is a time when a “huge lie was the only thing Flora could think to say.” However, in general this is a story that will appeal to youngsters who dream of exploring the great beyond. The message is to plan big and then go for it! In addition, it illustrates the importance of friendship and teamwork. Chris Kurtz is a teacher and author who also wrote the middle-grade novel The Pup Who Cried Wolf.