rollicking farmyard fun when a pig goes swimming!

by Martin Waddell, illustrated by Jill Barton - Candlewick Press, 1996
ages baby to 4 years (it's a great birthday gift!) / funny


This is a tremendously funny book about a hot pig who looks longingly at a pond. The ducks and the geese are happy and cool, but …’pigs don’t swim’. 


Finally it all gets the better of her. She throws convention to the wind and dives into the pond. It causes quite the farmyard commotion:

“The pig’s in the pond!”
“The pig’s in the pond!”
The word spread about above and beyond,
“At Neligan’s farm, the pig’s in the pond!”

And then Neligan, the farmer and owner of both pig and pond, comes home.

Neligan knows a good idea when he sees one and strips off to leap in the pond with the pig. It’s all very shocking – Neligan is swimming with the animals – and he’s naked

In the end the whole farmyard jumps in the pond – and everyone is cool and happy.

The Pig in the Pond has been an absolute favourite for two generations of children in our family now – my kids loved it and now my grandkids love it too. (It was first published in 1992.) I think it’s the fun of joining in with the constant chorus of “the pig’s in the pond” and making quack and honk sounds that does it. Or it could be all about the naked farmer at the end – it’s pretty hilarious stuff.

The fun of making animal noises together and the laughter and embarrassment are reasons enough to add this one to your picture book library, but there’s more. Of course. The Pig in the Pond is great for:

Early readers who can locate the familiar words over and over again

Little ones who can barely talk but can quack or honk – it’s a book they can join in reading.

Reminding us that sometimes the ‘rules’ are absurd – who says pigs don’t swim, especially when it’s swelteringly hot.

Reminding us that we can learn from each other – Neligan thinks about what the pig does and decides it’s a good idea for him too.

Developing a sense of the absurd – a farmyard full of gossipy animals who then join in the very behaviour that shocked them reminds us of how absurd we can be as we go through life.

Confidence building to go your own way.

The pictures are fabulous and include the happiest pig you ever saw with lots of personality in every farmyard inhabitant. They're buoyant and they infuse the story with life and fun that’s contagious for readers.