Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives here in our town. She is very small and has a hump on her back. When children ask her about the hump, she says, “Oh, that’s a big lump of magic. Sometimes it turns me into a witch; other times into a dwarf or a fairy, and on special occasions it makes me into a queen.”
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s skin is a goldy brown and she has a warm, spicy, sugar-cooky smell that is very comforting to children who are sad about something…She wears very high heels all the time and is glad to let the little girls borrow her shoes.
The most remarkable thing about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is her house, which is upside down…In the living room of her house is a large chandelier and instead of being on the ceiling it is on the floor…and the children turn on the lights and then squat around it pretending it is a campfire. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle says that her chandelier is the only one in town which is put to any real use.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald, introduces us to one of the best-loved and wisest old ladies in children’s literature. Best-loved, because she loves children and gladly accommodates their curious, playful, active, mess-making ways in her fantastic upside-down house. She makes chores as much fun as Mary Poppins, serves the children delectable cookies and tea, leaves plenty of holes in the yard for boys who wish to dig for buried treasure, and happily allows little girls to comb and braid and curl her long-long-long hair. Wise, because despite having gallons of fun, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle does not spoil the children. Oh my, no. And when the mothers of the neighborhood call to talk with her about a pesky difficulty they are having with a child, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle can always come up with an ingenuous cure!
In this book, you can read about the cure for a child who refuses to take a bath, which is one of our favorite chapters. You can also read about The Won’t-Pick-Up-Toys Cure, The Answer-Backer Cure, The Selfishness Cure, The Never-Want-To-Go-To-Bedders Cure, The Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker Cure and The Fighter-Quarrelers Cure. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s cures are all quite remarkable and highly effective!
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has been around since the 1940s. There are several volumes of her stories, but it is best to read this one first. Illustrations are by Hilary Knight, and they are charming, retro, line drawings. I haven’t met many kids who don’t love Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle! Her stories have been printed as individual picture books, made into a TV program, produced as plays and musicals…and yet, I think settling in with the chapter book for an out-loud reading just might be the best version of all.