Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series—Betty MacDonald

Summary: Everyone loves Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle lives in an upside-down house and smells like cookies. She was even married to a pirate once. Most of all, she knows everything about children. She can cure them of any ailment. Patsy hates baths. Hubert never puts anything away. Allen eats v-e-r-y slowly. Mrs Piggle-Wiggle has a treatment for all of them.

The incomparable Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle loves children good or bad and never scolds but has positive cures for Answer-Backers, Never-Want-to-Go-to-Bedders, and other boys and girls with strange habits.

Summary from book #1 and cover art from Goodreads.com

My review: The concept of this series is fun and darling. The prose is long winded and repetitive. I was surprised my 6-year-old did not grow bored. These books were written in the 1940s when, perhaps, attention spans were a little longer. The chapters are quite long for a children’s book (30 minutes to read one chapter out loud) and I really had to pace our bedtime routine to be able to have time for a chapter at night.  The book has no overarching plot. Each chapter takes on the bad habits of one child and his/her frustrated mother who tries to get advice from various friends and neighbors and lastly resorts to calling Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle for her unique and always perfect advice. The first book, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, relied entirely on cunning, natural consequences, and giving kids a “taste of their own medicine.” Subsequent books involved magical cures, which I didn’t find half as endearing or fun.

While I didn’t love these books, my daughter sure did. They are a favorite for her. She even learned a lesson or two, and asked for help cleaning her room and caught herself tattle-telling. So that alone raises my rating from three stars to four.

Old-fashioned gender roles and disciplinarian attitudes abound. That could turn some readers off (I did skip the line where a parent was noticing his daughters amazing qualities, summarizing that she would “make someone a good wife someday” ) but most of the time it’s a relic of yesteryear, sort of like watching a black-and-white show on Nick at Night and admiring the wholesome goodness of the era while simultaneously rejoicing that things are quite different today.

My rating: 4 stars

For the sensitive reader: No worries, this book is squeaky clean. Though there are several gender stereotypes that might bother some readers. 

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