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The Pig War: How a Porcine Tragedy Taught England and America to Share

By: Emma Bland Smith

Illustrator: Alison Jay

In 1859, the British and Americans coexist on the small island of San Juan, located off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. They are on fairly good terms—until one fateful morning when an innocent hog owned by a British man has the misfortune to eat some potatoes on an American farmer’s land. In a moment of rash anger, Lyman Cutlar shoots Charles Griffin’s pig, inadvertently almost bringing the two nations to war. Tensions flare, armies gather, cannons are rolled out…all because of a pig! Emma Bland Smith’s humorous text and Alison Jay’s folksy illustrations combine in this whimsical nonfiction picture book that models the principles of peaceful conflict resolution.

Author’s note, with archival photographs. Time line. Resources. Artist’s note. Full-color illustrations rendered in Alkyd paint with a crackle glaze varnish.

ISBN: 9781684371716

JLG Release: Feb 2021


Sensitive Areas: None
Topics: Pig War (1859) , American settlers , British settlers , Nineteenth-century military history , Military conflicts , Diplomacy , Resolving conflicts , San Juan Islands (Pacific Northwest) , US-Britain relations  

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Praise & Reviews

Starred or favorable reviews have been received from these periodicals:

School Library Journal

This true story takes place in 1859 in San Juan, an island located off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. An argument over a single pig pitted neighbor against neighbor and set into motion a series of events that led to a military standoff between England and America. Smith’s narrative dives into a strange and humorous slice of history that near This true story takes place in 1859 in San Juan, an island located off the coast of the Pacific Northwest. An argument over a single pig pitted neighbor against neighbor and set into motion a series of events that led to a military standoff between England and America. Smith’s narrative dives into a strange and humorous slice of history that nearly started another war between the two countries. American settler Lyman Cutlar was annoyed to find a pig in his potato patch. Cutlar killed the pig, which belonged to Charles Griffin, who was British. Cutlar offered to pay for the pig, but Griffin wanted more money than Cutlar was willing to pay. Their argument eventually resulted in the deployment of both the Queen’s military and American battleships. This porcine altercation is detailed with lofty humor that makes for an intriguing and endearing read, though some older elementary readers may find the story’s moralistic conclusion condescending. Jay’s distinctive illustrations, rendered in alkyd paint with crackle glaze varnish, lend an old-timey feel and playful whimsy that matches the tone of the text. The book centers the perspective of white colonizers and early America, and the text only mentions stolen Native land as an afterthought in the back matter. The author’s note states, “Various countries had claimed ownership of this area over the centuries (stubbornly ignoring the fact that the indigenous Coast Salish and Northwest Coast peoples had lived there much longer).” ­VERDICT The book’s humor and whimsy provide an interesting narrative nonfiction read for elementary classrooms, but the niche subject and erasure of Native history make it suitable only for additional purchase.–Allison Staley, Lake Oswego P.L., OR

Book Details

ISBN

9781684371716

First Release

February 2021

Genre

Nonfic

Dewey Classification

979.7

Trim Size

10" x 10"

Page Count

48

Accelerated Reader

N/A

Scholastic Reading Counts

N/A

Lexile

Level 720L

Format

Print Book

Edition

Hardcover edition

Publisher

Calkins Creek

Potentially Sensitive Areas

None

Topics

Pig War (1859), American settlers, British settlers, Nineteenth-century military history, Military conflicts, Diplomacy, Resolving conflicts, San Juan Islands (Pacific Northwest), US-Britain relations, 

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