Pig City by Louis Sachar

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Pig City by Louis Sachar
Buy Pig City from Amazon.co.uk

Buy Pig City from Amazon.com

Genre: Confident Readers
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Funny story about peer groups at school and how rivalries can get out of proportion. Sachar's observation is as acute as ever and the humour is equally on the button, but this is a light story and not one of his best.
Buy? Maybe. Borrow? Yes
Pages: 240 Date: May 2009
Publisher: Bloomsbury
ISBN: 0747599246

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Laura Sibbie is pretty gorgeous. She has lovely long hair that she is doubly proud of - it makes her look good, and it also reminds her of how long she has gone without telling a lie. After catching her out in a fib when she was small, her parents had promised her that she'd never have to have another hair cut while she remained truthful. And she has remained truthful - to the letter, if not necessarily the spirit.

So anyways. Laura's doing pretty well really. She has the hair. She has a feisty personality and plenty of friends. Gabriel worships her from afar. So when she starts a secret club called Pig City - after a cap she bought at a garage sale - and requires every joiner to entrust her with their most embarrassing secret, Laura doesn't struggle for members. But secrets - and lies, however dressed up as truth they may be - have a habit of surfacing, and Pig City's secrets are no different. And then there's a new club, Monkey Town, and it's threatening to bring Laura's house of cards tumbling right down...

I always enjoy reading Louis Sachar. He has such a good ear for the way children interact and his dialogue always sparkles. He creates realistic characters with realistic vices and virtues that every child will recognise, but he writes about them with such deadpan humour that all the sting is taken out of his more serious points. Here, peer group rivalry is dissected rather mercilessly, but you never feel ashamed or guilty as you do when you read Lord of the Flies, for instance. Children may feel a little red-faced as they recognise similar events in their own lives, but it's a much better way to show the right path.

Laura needs to learn the difference between lying technically and lying in effect. She spends a lot of time thinking of ways to avoid a direct fib, but she doesn't spend much at all on being faithful to the truth. She doesn't really deserve that beautiful hair and it's a tough lesson to learn. Eventually, though, she faces up to facts and comes through with some genuine potential. There's always a way out, however sticky the mess you've got yourself into.

It's not one of Sachar's best books; it's light in style as ever, but also in content, so I'd recommend it as a library borrowing for children of about eight to twelve, and as a purchase only for Sachar fans. Having said that, he has plenty of fans, so I'm probably saying "buy this book" to just about all my readers!

My thanks to the nice people at Bloomsbury for sending the book.

Someday Angeline and Holes are Louis Sachar at his wonderful best. If a Tree Falls at Lunch Break by Gennifer Choldenko talks about peer group pressure at schools and is a very affecting read.

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