My girls love listening to audiobooks in the car. I have a nice selection of children’s literature, thanks to some great Audible sales. After we listened to Pippi Longstocking, my girls chose The Sheep Pig, by Dick King-Smith. This book is also known as Babe: The Gallant Pig, and is the inspiration for Babe, the Academy Award nominated film.
The story begins when Farmer Hogget wins a piglet at a county fair. Mrs. Hogget is delighted, and thinks about the delicious ham they can eat at Christmas. In the barn, the despondent little pig cries because he is in an unfamiliar place, away from his family. Fly, the sheepdog, comforts him, and calls him Babe, after she learns that his mother called all of her piglets. When Fly’s puppies are sold, she grows closer to Babe, especially after she realizes the little pig has a natural capacity for learning. Babe wants nothing more than to learn to herd sheep. While Fly’s philosophy involves exerting dominance over the woolly beasts, Babe wonders if the sheep might do what he wants if he simply asks nicely. But what will the farmer do when he realizes that the pig might be the best sheepdog he ever had?
My girls have not seen Babe, so this was their first exposure to the clever little pig. This was a very sweet story, and they enjoyed it quite a bit. Babe demonstrates some wonderful qualities; he uses good manners to achieve his goals. Normally I wouldn’t mention a key plot point, but Babe quickly proves his loyalty to the farm by protecting the sheep, and it is decided that he should not be eaten. I want to mention this in case there were any concerns about the specter of death hanging over the pig for the entire story.
I also want to mention that the dog is referred to as the “collie bitch” multiple times. This is, of course, the technical term for a female dog. Apparently, going to school has not corrupted my children because they did not blink at the word “bitch”. But as soon as the dog said that sheep were “stupid”, my children were outraged and proclaimed that they couldn’t believe that the dog said the worst word in the world.
I would absolutely recommend The Sheep Pig/Babe: The Gallant Pig. This is a heartwarming story. The print edition is best suited for children in elementary school, but my kindergarten girls enjoyed listening to this story, so it would be a nice choice for reading out loud.