By R. A. Spratt
Illustrated by Dan Santat
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The three Green children are cared for by a nanny pig. Yes, a pig–a fabulously sassy and impeccably dressed pig, as a matter of fact! With her insatiable urge to eat chocolate (and feed chocolate to everyone she loves), her high-flying spirit, and her unending sense of fun, Nanny Piggins takes Derrick, Samantha, and Michael on a year of surprises, yummy treats, and adventures they’ll never forget.
It’s no surprise that Booklist proclaimed, “Mary Poppins, move over–or get shoved out of the way.” Nanny Piggins is a refreshing and dynamic addition to favorite classic nannies: Amelia Bedelia, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, and, of course, Mary Poppins.
Read more books in the series: Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan and Nanny Piggins and the Runaway Lion.
Table of Contents
A Sneak Peek of Nanny Piggins and the Wicked Plan!
A Sneak Peek of Nanny Piggins and the Runaway Lion!
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YOU ARE ABOUT TO READ A WONDERFUL BOOK. Nanny Piggins is the most amazing pig ever. It has been a privilege to write about her. But before you begin I must (because the publisher has forced me) give you one small warning.…
Unless you are a pig, do not copy Nanny Piggins's diet IN ANY WAY.
You see, pigs and humans have very different bodies. Pigs are a different shape, for a start (mainly because they eat so much). Plus, Nanny Piggins is an elite athlete so she has a freakishly fast metabolism that can burn a lot of calories.
So please, for the good of your own health, do not try to eat like Nanny Piggins. There is no doubt that chocolate, cake, cookies, tarts, chocolate milk, sticky cream buns, candy, ice cream, lollipops, sherbet lemons, and chocolate chip pancakes are all delicious, but that does not mean you should eat them seven or eight times a day.
Also, you really must eat vegetables, no matter what Nanny Piggins might say to the contrary, or you will get sick.
R. A. Spratt, the author
P.S. The publisher also wants me to mention that you really should not try a lot of the things Nanny Piggins does either. For example, throwing heavy things off roofs. Firstly, because you might give yourself a hernia lugging it up there. But mainly, because if it landed on someone that would be terrible. So please do not copy Nanny Piggins's behavior (unless you are under the close supervision of a responsible adult pig with advanced circus training).
Nanny Piggins and Her Dramatic Entrance
r. Green desperately needed to find a new nanny for his children. In the four weeks since their last nanny left, he found himself actually having to talk to them, provide them with meals, and pay attention to them himself. And all this just had to stop. He had a job at a law firm helping rich people avoid paying their taxes. He could not be expected to look after his children as well.
The reason Mrs. Green did not look after the children was because she was not there. Mr. Green said she had died in a boating accident. But the children were not entirely sure this was true. Yes, there had been a funeral. Yes, there had been an obituary in the paper. But people on television programs died all the time and that never stopped them from coming back in the next season. So they had not totally given up hope that their mother had just got fed up with their father, which was a sentiment they could fully understand.
There were three Green children. The eldest, Derrick, was a conscientious boy of eleven. Being older he was the natural leader. The only problem was he was never entirely sure where he was meant to be leading the others to, so he just kept a blank look on his face and hoped nobody noticed. He was always suntanned or muddy. Either way, he always looked brown. And he always had long messy hair but never went to the barber because the only time his father ever spoke to him was to snap, "Go and get your hair cut! You look like a scruffbag!"
The second child, Samantha, was a girl. And, as such, she had even fewer conversations with her father than Derrick. She was a nice nine-year-old and pretty enough, but not so much so as to cause a fuss. Her chief characteristic was that she worried all the time. To be fair, she did have a lot to worry about. Girls whose mothers have drowned in boating accidents would be foolish not to worry.
The third child, Michael, was only seven but, in many ways, he was the most confident. He could not remember his mother at all. So he was not saddened or worried about her loss. Derrick and Samantha bore the brunt of having to deal with Mr. Green. So Michael was able to get on with his life unhindered. As a result he was a little on the tubby side, because Michael's favorite hobby was stealing food from the kitchen, then sitting and eating it under a bush in the garden. Not that he was greedy, you understand. Because the fact is, most little boys would have this hobby, if only their mothers would let them.
On the whole they were three well-mannered, largely self-sufficient children. And they would have been a doddle for anyone to take care of. Mr. Green should have found a nanny in half a second flat. But there was a problem. Not only did Mr. Green believe that rich people should not pay taxes. He also believed that he, personally, should not have to pay for anything. He begrudged giving money to a nanny. In his opinion child care should be entirely government provided. Paid for out of the taxes his clients never paid.
But even more than that, Mr. Green deeply resented the idea that he had to pay to advertise for a nanny. There was so much unemployment in the world that, in his opinion, nannies should be beating down his door. So despite the fact that he desperately wanted a nanny, he did not have one because he was too cheap to put an advertisement in a newspaper. All Mr. Green had done was paint a sign himself with the words NANNY WANTED: ENQUIRE WITHIN, attach it to a stake, and bang it into the front lawn. So far the sign had sat there for three weeks without a single knock at the door.
And now the pressure was really on. One of the neighbors, having watched Michael sitting under a bush eating frozen pizza (that was still frozen), had reported this to the government. And a social worker had arrived to inspect all three children. She then made an appointment to see Mr. Green (because he was, of course, at work when she visited) and threatened him. She told him that if he continued to leave his children unattended for ten or twelve hours at a time, they would be taken away and put into government care.
Now Mr. Green would have liked nothing more than to be relieved of responsibility for his children. If that happened, then he would not have to go home at all. He could spend all his time at the office, happily reading tax laws. But Mr. Green knew that if his children were taken away from him it would look very bad indeed. (People did not think much of him already, what with him being a tax lawyer, and him not paying attention when his wife fell off the boat.) It would damage him professionally if the story got in the papers.
So it is at this point that our story begins.
Mr. Green was so desperate to hire a nanny, he was actually considering paying to advertise, when this painful thought was interrupted by a loud knock at the front door.
It was a dark and stormy night. Rain was pouring down. As Mr. Green opened the door he could not clearly see the person in front of him, silhouetted by the streetlight. But he could tell from the shape that the person was wearing a dress. So he assumed it was a woman. And he assumed she must have come about the position of nanny. Mr. Green was flooded with relief. "Come in, come in," he said.
As the new nanny stepped into the house, the light hit her, and Mr. Green could see her clearly for the first time. She wore a simple blue dress with a drop waist and a jaunty little jacket. And she was only four feet tall. But Mr. Green soon forgot about her lack of height when he saw that she had a much more shocking feature. The woman was not a woman. She was a pig. A common, pink farm pig. The type bacon came from.
"Good evening, I am Nanny Piggins," said Nanny Piggins the pig.
"Huh?" said Mr. Green.
"I have come to apply for the position of nanny," she explained.
"Well…" spluttered Mr. Green, buying time as his mind raced, and he tried to figure out what to do. "Well, um, that's very good. But, um… I wonder if you're quite suitable, you see."
"I can start immediately," said Nanny Piggins.
"Oh," said Mr. Green. He could not deny that this would be convenient.
"I have no criminal record," said Nanny Piggins.
"That is good," said Mr. Green. He could not deny that this would please the social worker.
"But I expect to be paid properly," stated Nanny Piggins.
"Now, that might be a difficulty," interrupted Mr. Green. Here he saw he had the perfect excuse for not hiring the pig.
"I charge ten cents an hour," Nanny Piggins declared boldly.
"You're hired!" exclaimed Mr. Green without even thinking. He knew a bargain when he heard one. "I'll be frank, Nanny Piggins, I would prefer not to have a pig take care of my children. But I am prepared to offer you the job until a suitable human nanny presents herself."
"Very well," said Nanny Piggins. "I think you will find human nannies are terribly overrated. They are, in my experience, very greedy and not terribly clean. But I shall agree to your terms, because it is wet outside and I do not have an umbrella."
So Mr. Green and Nanny Piggins shook hands on it.
Then Mr. Green immediately fled out of the house, to return to his office in the city, where he could read the tax laws in peace—leaving Nanny Piggins to acquaint herself with the children.
Derrick, Samantha, and Michael stared at Nanny Piggins with their mouths agape. It had never occurred to them that their father might leave them in the care of a pig, no matter how well she was dressed.
"Hello, children, my name is Sarah Piggins and I am to be your new nanny."
"I'm Derrick," said Derrick.
"I'm Samantha," said Samantha.
"And I'm Michael," said Michael.
"Derrick, Samantha, and Michael. I shall try my best to remember that," Nanny Piggins assured them.
The children stared at her and she stared at them for several long moments before Nanny Piggins cleared her throat and asked, "So, what's supposed to happen now?"
"This is the part where you tell us what you expect of us," Derrick told her. He was quite an experienced hand, having had eleven different nannies in his time. (The nannies never lasted long because they could not bear working for Mr. Green. He was always forgetting to pay them and pretending to be deaf when they asked for food money.) So Derrick waited, expecting some boring lecture about the importance of cleaning behind your ears. But he was soon surprised.
"Oh, I didn't realize I was meant to have expectations so early on. Give me a moment to think of some," said Nanny Piggins.
The children watched her as she thought for a few seconds.
"Okay, I'm ready," she announced. "Well, children, you need not tell your father this, but I will admit I have never been a nanny before. My only previous job experience was as a flying pig in a circus. Which, I am proud to say, I was very good at. And I don't suppose that nannying can be any harder than being blasted out of a cannon. So I shouldn't be surprised if I turn out to be very good at this too."
The children stared at Nanny Piggins in awe. They did not know what to think. They were astounded that she was a pig. But a flying pig? A flying pig who had no idea how to be a nanny? They must be the luckiest children in the world. Derrick was sure a flying pig would not be too vigilant about baths. Michael was sure a flying pig would not mind illicit frozen pizza being eaten underneath the azalea bush. And even Samantha started to worry slightly less, thinking a flying pig probably would not tell her off for all the incorrectly conjugated verbs in her French homework.
It was Nanny Piggins who interrupted their joyful thoughts. "So I've told you my expectations. What am I supposed to do next?" she asked.
The children considered all the things their father would have suggested.
"Well, you could tell us to go and tidy our rooms," suggested Derrick.
"Or instruct us to take a bath," added Samantha.
"Or order us to be quiet if we know what is good for us," said Michael.
"Oh, is that what you normally do?" asked Nanny Piggins, taken aback by the unpleasant suggestions. "Well, you can do that if you like. But I'm going to go to the kitchen and go through all the cupboards looking for things that contain sugar. Then eat as much as I can until I feel sick. You can join me if you like."
And they did.
The children soon fell deeply in love with their new nanny. And Nanny Piggins had barely shoved the first block of cooking chocolate in her mouth (then spat it back out because cooking chocolate does not contain sugar) before she fell in love with them too. They had a wonderful time together. She let them stay up half the night watching scary movies, then let them sleep in her bed the other half the night when they had terrible nightmares. She let them eat chocolate not only before and after breakfast but instead of breakfast as well. As far as they were concerned she was the best nanny ever in the entire world.
The only cloud on their horizon was the NANNY WANTED sign in the front garden.
For their father still held out the hope that he would eventually be able to upgrade to a human nanny. And the children lived in dread of that day.
Nanny Piggins and the Best Day Ever
anny Piggins was sitting at the breakfast table reading a rather thrilling romance novel. She encouraged all the children to read trashy literature at the dining table because it kept them quiet. And that kept Mr. Green happy. For Nanny Piggins had discovered that no matter what they might say to the contrary, adults like their children quiet, much more than they like them to have pure minds. She was just getting to a good bit (this is the best thing about a thrilling romance, there is a good bit on every page) when her daydream was interrupted by Mr. Green coughing. Not the cough of someone with an illness. But the cough of someone who wants to speak but does not know how to start. So Nanny Piggins stuck a slice of toast in her book to mark the page and waited to hear what he had to say.
"Nanny Piggins, I believe the children are due to start back at school tomorrow," said Mr. Green.
Nanny Piggins knew absolutely nothing about this, but she cunningly hid her ignorance with the guarded reply, "Yes."
"They'll be needing new uniforms and equipment, I suppose," he went on.
Again Nanny Piggins found herself wildly out of her depth. Being a pig, she had never attended school herself. So she had no idea how you needed to equip yourself. She cleverly encouraged Mr. Green to give more information by simply saying, "I suppose."
Mr. Green had obviously given a lot of thought to the next speech because it came out very suddenly and precisely. "Well, I'll give you five hundred dollars to sort it out. That ought to be enough, I should think." And with that he took a white envelope out of his suit pocket and placed it on the table.
All the children's eyes were fixed on the envelope, as indeed were Nanny Piggins's. This conversation was becoming stranger and stranger. She did not want to reveal her ignorance, but this was getting ridiculous. She needed to understand what was going on. "What is this?" she asked politely, nodding toward the envelope.
"The money, of course," said Mr. Green as he was getting up.
"Of course," agreed Nanny Piggins, pretending to be knowledgeable. Nodding her head as though she found it perfectly natural that Mr. Green should hide cash inside an envelope, as if it were too shameful to be seen by daylight.
"I will be home late tonight. I trust you will be all right with the children?" he said. Even though Mr. Green paid Nanny Piggins to be his nanny, he still could not entirely convince himself that she was willing to spend long periods of time with his children. He was relieved to hear Nanny Piggins's willing "Oh yes." It meant he could enjoy his dinner sitting at his desk, where it was quiet and peaceful and he could bill his time to a client as he ate.
Nanny Piggins and the children waited until they heard Mr. Green close the front door behind him before they rushed into a huddle around the envelope. They all wanted to see the cash, so Nanny Piggins lovingly removed it from the envelope. The money was in the form of five crisp $100 notes. Nanny Piggins became quite misty-eyed, the notes were so beautiful to behold.
"All this money just to buy uniforms!" she exclaimed.
"Uniforms are ridiculously overpriced," explained Derrick. "They can charge what they like because they know you have to buy them."
"You do?" asked Nanny Piggins. This was news to her. "But what are these 'uny-forums' exactly?"
"Didn't you ever have to wear one in the circus?" asked Samantha, feeling both surprised and envious.
"I've never even heard of them before," Nanny Piggins assured her.
"They are horrible, uncomfortable clothes that you have to wear every day so that you match everybody else and nobody looks different," explained Michael.
"Oh." This was a concept Nanny Piggins understood. "You mean like costumes?"
"Sort of," agreed Samantha. "Except they are always made in the dullest colors and the ugliest shapes, so that everyone looks as unattractive as possible."
"But why? Wouldn't it be better to look fabulous?" asked Nanny Piggins. That was certainly the object of all the costumes she had ever worn.
"Oh no," explained Michael. "People like children to look awful. Because it makes them pleased that they're not children anymore."
"It seems terribly cruel," Nanny Piggins muttered. Humans baffled her. They always talked about how they just wanted their children to be happy. Then they seemed to devise endless systems and schedules to ensure that they were not. The Green children had already suffered the loss of their mother, so to Nanny Piggins's mind, it was barbaric to force them to wear unfashionable clothes as well. "And you have to wear these uny-things to school?" Nanny Piggins asked. She was trying to get all this new information as straight in her head as possible.
"That's right," said Derrick.
Nanny Piggins could not hide the full extent of her ignorance any further. She had another question to ask. "So, what exactly is 'school'? Exactly."
"What's school?!" exclaimed Derrick. "Did you never have to go?"
He could not believe anybody as clearly knowledgeable about so many important things, such as how to make fake blood and what was the best type of stick for making a slingshot, could have had no formal education.
"No, you never have to do anything at the circus," explained Nanny Piggins. "That's the whole reason people run away there. To escape tyranny."
"So you could just eat chocolate? Every meal of the day?!" asked Michael, hardly believing his ears.
"Of course," said Nanny Piggins. "Many do. Particularly bearded ladies."
"Well, we have to go to school or we get in trouble," explained Samantha.
"Really? But how often do you have to go?" asked Nanny Piggins, imagining that it must be an institution used only for occasional punishment, only when children were caught being utterly wicked. Which could not include the three well-behaved Green children.
"We have to go every day," Michael told her.
"What! How monstrously cruel. Every single day?!" she exclaimed.
"Well, from Monday to Friday," Derrick admitted honestly.
"But still," exclaimed Nanny Piggins. "They force you to go! Even on sunny days when the weather is perfect for picnics?"
"Even then," the children regretfully assured her.
"And even on rainy days when the weather is perfect for going to the movies?" asked Nanny Piggins disbelievingly.
"Then too," the children added sadly.
"That sounds so terribly undemocratic," said Nanny Piggins. She was deeply shocked. "I thought we fought wars against dictators to prevent these sorts of things. Isn't this exactly why the French cut the heads off all their kings and queens?"
The children's knowledge of history was even less precise than Nanny Piggins's, but they were happy to agree with someone so sympathetic on this point. "We thought so."
"But who came up with such a mean-spirited idea?" asked Nanny Piggins. She was becoming increasingly horrified by the widely accepted brutality of universal education.
"The government," Derrick informed her.
"Of course, I might have known," said Nanny Piggins. "All the greatest psychopaths and evil villains end up in politics. If the government is behind it, I suppose there is nothing that can be done."
"I'm afraid not," agreed Derrick.
"They do seem to ruin everything," added Samantha.
"But still," said Nanny Piggins, thoughtfully eyeing the lovely cash on the table, "I find it hard to believe that it will cost a whole five hundred dollars to buy three uniforms."
"We need supplies too," Samantha reminded her. Samantha wanted a share in $500 pocket money as much as any sane girl. But she was also tremendously afraid of teachers, especially new teachers, and especially afraid of what a new teacher might say to a girl who had no pens or paper to write with.
"What sort of supplies?" asked Nanny Piggins absentmindedly. Her brain was already turning over much more interesting possibilities for their newfound windfall.
"We need pens and notebooks," explained Samantha.
"And I need a geometry set," added Derrick. In truth, he had no idea whether he would be studying geometry or not. But he was sure that if Barry Nichols was in his class, he would like to have a compass. Just in case Barry got rough, and Derrick needed the sharp pointed instrument for self-defense as well as drawing circles.
"Yes, yes, we can get that later. But I'm sure the bulk of this can be invested in something more worthwhile," said Nanny Piggins. In her opinion there were more important matters to attend to. The three Green children needed fresh air and a good dose of fun, and she was just the pig for the job.
Happily, as it turned out, Nanny Piggins's idea of a good investment was to buy four tickets to an amusement park. The children had the most wonderful day. They went on all sorts of terrifying rides. On some they were flung high into the air until they were convinced they were going to die. And on others they were spun around and around until they were utterly sick.
In fact, Michael was sick. Fortunately the ride was going at full speed at the time, and the vomit flew cleanly out of his mouth and into the face of the person behind him. So Nanny Piggins did not have to trouble herself with cleaning up his clothes.
"Well done, Michael," Nanny Piggins complimented him. "With aim like that you could get a job at the circus."
And at lunchtime Nanny Piggins bought them lunch, right there in the park, even though the prices were ludicrously overblown. Nanny Piggins actually let them have hot dogs and hamburgers, and four cups of soft drink each. It was pure joy. Mr. Green would have dropped dead of apoplexy if he ever found out they did not take their own sandwiches.
- A Booklist Top 10 First Novels for Youth
- * "Mary Poppins, move over-or get shoved out of the way. Nanny Piggins has arrived... This is smart, sly, funny, and marvelously illustrated with drawings that capture Nanny's sheer pigginess."—Booklist, starred review
- "Reluctant and avid readers alike will get caught up in this book's humor, charm, and adventure."—School Library Journal
- "Readers looking for nonstop giggles and cheerful political incorrectness will devour this as quickly as Nanny Piggins can consume a chocolate cake."—Publishers Weekly
- On Sale
- Jun 12, 2012
- Page Count
- 272 pages
- Little, Brown Books for Young Readers