A piglet’s plan to run away gives the familiar home/away/home theme new meaning. After throwing a tantrum in the grocery store, a little pig announces he’s running away from home. His mother calmly mixes a cake and queries where he’s going and how he’ll get there. The little pig defiantly shouts he’s going “far far away” on his bike. His mother omnisciently suggests he’ll need a bike light and helmet as well as tent, sleeping bag and warm coat. As her litany of the pets and toys he’ll want to take grows, the little pig realizes he has everything he needs at home. Pencil-and-watercolor illustrations rely on basic shapes and pale tones to zero in on the little pig’s emotional states as he runs the gamut from mad to mellow. Hilarious scenes of the little pig with his very porcine snout and corkscrew tail anthropomorphically riding in a grocery cart, astride a bike, tucked in a sleeping bag and dwarfed by a parka add layers of humor and charm to this otherwise simple story.
There are many picture books about kids’ perennial desire to run away when the going gets tough, but this one has a good twist. In a small inset on the title page, a young pig and his mother are having an altercation at the grocery store. “That’s it. I’m leaving. Tonight . . . You can’t stop me.” Mother Pig isn’t totally opposed to the idea, but she does have a few questions—and plenty of suggestions. After learning he’s off on his bike, she loads the boy down with a helmet and flashlight. She reminds him to bring a tent, a sleeping bag, a coat, and his blanky. Before long Piggie sees his escape venturing into more-trouble-than-it’s-worth territory. When his mother asks him if he wants to take some cake (not quite frosted), the pig decides to stick around. Segal’s art, executed in pencil and watercolors, features stylized pigs set against backgrounds that alternate between mottled colors and pure white. The pictures make good use of space and squeeze every bit of humor out of a familiar situation.