Beryl Goes Wild by Jane Simmons

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Beryl Goes Wild by Jane Simmons

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A rollicking adventure story as Beryl escapes on the trip to the abbatoir and goes wild. A look at factory farming and cultural diversity for the newly confident reader. Recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 224 Date: May 2008
Publisher: Orchard Books
ISBN: 978-1846166204

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Throughout her short life Beryl has only known the sty. Her mother died there when she was born and her father was taken away from there. Now she shares it with her hateful Aunt Misery and the cousins. None of the pigs know what happens to those who are taken away, but they think that it isn't good as the pigs who leave are never seen again. When one of her cousins is on the list to go Aunt Misery pulls the label off her piglet and sticks it on to Beryl. Beryl's day has come.

The pigs are crammed together in the lorry and when there's a minor accident the doors spring open. Most of the pigs think it's better to stay where they are, with what they know, but Beryl takes her chance and makes a dash for freedom. Beryl goes wild.

Being a pink pig in the wild isn't easy. For a start you're rather obvious and well, if all you've known is your sty then you haven't got any of the skills that are going to help you to survive. Beryl's lucky though because she meets up with Amber, a wild pig. It might have been a little frightening because pink pigs definitely don't associate with wild pigs – they're not their type of pig, you know – but needs must when you're all on your own in the wild. The contrast between the factory sty where she lived before and the countryside could not be starker.

Amber takes Beryl home with her and she meets up with Uncle Bert and the Sisterhood of the Mystic Boar. Uncle Bert tells Beryl that he's very sorry but she can't stay with them in the settlement as rules are rules and rule number one says that no other type of animal is allowed to live in the settlement. No one is quite certain why the rule is there but rules are rules as Uncle Bert has already said. In the end the pigs in the settlement split, with some going with Beryl and Amber to look for a new home.

It's a rollicking adventure as the pigs brave the wild and the towns in their quest to find somewhere they can all live together. In the course of the journey, they meet animals they've only heard about before and realise that not everyone who is different is actually dangerous. In fact, some of them help the pigs to safety.

It's a gentle story about diversity and the horrors of factory farming, delivered with what would be a heavy hand for the adult market but for the target age group it more than passes muster. It was another pig who forced Beryl into danger but wild pigs are willing to risk all to help her. There is a road accident which left a tear in my eye, but it's still a splendid adventure story with some animals you can't help but love.

The book is ideal for the newly confident reader. It's of a size that fits comfortably into small hands and there are illustrations – delightful pencil drawings – on each double-page spread. The vocabulary is gently challenging and never patronising. You might like to consider how you will deal with questions about pregnancy if this is not a word – or a concept – which has been encountered before.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

For more animal stories we can recommend Born To Run by Michael Morpurgo or Come On Daisy! by Jane Simmons.

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Buy Beryl Goes Wild by Jane Simmons at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beryl Goes Wild by Jane Simmons at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Beryl Goes Wild by Jane Simmons at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Beryl Goes Wild by Jane Simmons at


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