Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Nanny Piggins Guide to Conquering Christmas - R.A. Spratt

Nanny Piggins fans will be delighted to hear this rambunctious flying pig is back again, ready to wreak havoc on Christmas. She begins by causing a disruption at the local shopping centre, drawing all their customers away by going into competition in the car park with her Nanny Piggins’ Santa Photography Business. If the photo-shoot itself is not entertaining enough – with options for children to wrestle Nanny Piggins dressed as Santa in her specially designed bright red, fur-trimmed wrestling leotard, or read their present list out to her while being attacked by ninjas – she provides unlimited cake and hot chocolate to those in the line that extends all the way around the block. Next she trounces everyone at the Carols by Candlelight concert by going into competition with Nanny Anne and her choir, modifying the lyrics of the carols to include plenty of references to chocolate cake; tries to save Christmas by taking it upon herself to deliver toys to all the children in the world; has a disappointment with Boxing Day when she turns out in black silk shorts and boxing gloves; and gives the story of Christmas a run for its money when recounting her ancester Yudith Piggins’ priceless version of events when she claims to be midwife at the birth. All this plus Nanny Piggins’ Christmas recipes and tips, holiday fashion advice, games, and letters from Boris the Bear, Mrs Claus and Nanny Piggins herself.

From the moment you open this book you begin chuckling; there is a laugh-out-loud moment on every page. Nanny Piggins is such an outrageously incorrigible character it is impossible not to be drawn in by her impertinence and forthright lack of tact. R A Spratt has come up with a winning cast of characters: the human children in Nanny Piggins’ care, Samantha, Derrick and Michael, who ground the storyline and temper Nanny Piggins’ predilection to hazard-fraught eccentricity; the children’s irresponsible father, who is conveniently absent for much of the time; Nanny Piggins’ brother, a large, sensitive bear, prone to bursting into tears; and the various other Piggins family members prone to bursting through windows to announce their arrival.

It’s a winner. I haven’t enjoyed such an entertaining read in ages. Children will love it. Highly recommended.

Random House  2013
(A version of this review appears in Magpies Vol 28, Issue 5, November 2013)

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