April 12, 2016

Sky Pig

by Jan L. Coates
Illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo
Pajama Press
32 pp.
Ages 4-7
April 2016

Ollie is a little pig with a big dream and, though he doesn’t speak (he is after all a pig and pigs can’t talk), his friend, Jack, a boy with a big heart and a bigger imagination, tries to help Ollie achieve his dream.

Ollie from Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates,
 illus. by Suzanne Del Rizzo
First Jack fastens leafy branches onto Ollie’s back and they climb to the top of a very high hill. Even though a fast run and a jump has Ollie believing that he’s flying, an “Oooooomph!” and a “Plop!” make it evident he did not.  Having Jack create a kite with some garden stakes, twine, a feed sack and scraps of fabric is Ollie’s next plan to become airborne.  A couple of oinks and another “Oooooomph!” and “Plop!” again foretell the futility of their endeavour. Finally, taking their cues from the geese, chickens and other birds, Jack fashions a set of wings for Ollie. Made from an assortment of papers, including maps and wrapping paper featuring airborne creatures, and miscellaneous gears and leather, Ollie takes to the sky like a kind of steampunk flyer.  Alas, that flight ends similarly.  Even a Mary Poppins-like contraption of umbrellas is unsuccessful.

It’s only when the two make use of an already-tried-and-true flying machine that Ollie is able to stay aloft and experience the joys of floating in the sky, even if only for a short time and at a cost of $5.

Dreamers can dream but, with a friend like Jack, Ollie’s dream that a pig could fly comes true.  It takes a little determination, a lot of imagination and being in the right place at the right time but Ollie’s dream, courtesy of Jack’s friendship and piggy bank, becomes a reality.  Jan L. Coates’ story is uplifting like much of her previous work including A Hare in the Elephant’s Trunk (Red Deer Press, 2010), The Power of Harmony (Red Deer Press, 2013), and The King of Keji (Nimbus, 2015), and even more so with Suzanne Del Rizzo’s spectacular art, previously enjoyed in Skink on the Brink (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2013) and Gerbil, Uncurled (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2015).  The doughy art (plasticene with polymer clay) with mixed media collage features adds the textures and colour to elevate the story even higher.  Beyond the cuteness of Ollie and Jack is a rich landscape of green pastures and trees, chickens and groundhogs, and flowers and dandelion fluff and sweet details of a chicken protecting her egg in a life-vest or basket and thwarting a mouse that tries to get too close.   There’s so much more to Sky Pig than making a pig fly and young readers will love going along for the ride.

From Sky Pig by Jan L. Coates, illus. by Suzanne Del Rizzo


There will be two great opportunities to check out Sky Pig with author or illustrator.

Illustrator Suzanne Del Rizzo will be participating in the I Art Books Exhibit and Sale of Children's Book Illustration on April 30, 2016 at Blue Heron Books in Uxbridge, ON. Details here.

Author Jan L. Coates will be launching Sky Pig on May 7, 2016 at The Box of Delights Bookshop in Wolfville, NS. Details here.


  1. An amazing book from a talented author!

  2. I'm looking forward to receiving my very own copy from the illustrator, Suzanne Del Rizzo. SKY PIG sounds like a fun story with kid appeal art. -- Monica Kulling