“The True Adventures of Esther the Wonder Pig” by Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter and Caprice Crane is illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. It’s a lovely picture book about a pig who grew and grew — not only in size, but also in the hearts of those who love her.
Esther’s story is incredible. Adopted as a mini-piglet, she was nothing of the kind. An acquaintance called her adopters, two of the authors of the picture book, and said that she had a five-pound micro-piglet but couldn’t care for it. She explained that the piglet shouldn’t grow to more than 70 pounds. The adopters thought Esther would be like a third dog, but when they took Esther to the vet, he broke the news that Esther wasn’t a micro-piglet, but rather a commercial pig. The woman who gave them Esther wouldn’t answer messages.
But then they fell in love with Esther. Her smarts, her tricks to get food, her winning personality — no matter what mischief Esther got into, she looked at them with love in her eyes and they couldn’t resist laughing. She loved them, and she loved their dogs. But at 18 months, Esther weighed 420 pounds.
Because Esther made them laugh, they started a Facebook page for her. Within a few months, they had over 100,000 likes. They needed a place for Esther to live, so they bought a 50-acre farm and started a sanctuary there. They wrote a memoir, “Esther the Wonder Pig,” which was a New York Times bestseller, and now this adorable, touching, funny, picture book so that children can know and love Esther just as much as their parents do!
The picture book tells the story in simple, kid-friendly language. There is a refrain that kids will enjoy chiming in on:
“When she looked up at her dads with those eyes and that smile…it was LOVE.”
Children will laugh at the illustrations depicting how Esther outgrew her cat bed, then the dog bed, then the extra-large dog bed, and finally a mattress. They will giggle at the illustration of Esther in the bathtub making her own bubbles (hint: she’s not using her mouth). They will probably fall over laughing when Esther breaks the door of the oven.
Throughout the story, the dogs and the cats and finally all the animals at the sanctuary love Esther. At the end of the book there is a page titled, “The True Story of Esther the Wonder Pig” with photos of Esther in her costumes, kissing her dad, covered in mud, and chilling with her dog friend.
This is a treasure kids will want to read over and over. But be careful — they might just want a pig of their own!
Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publisher, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for review purposes.
Video of Esther and her dads with the book (ignore the backwards print):