Ever since the centuries-old ``this little piggy went to market'' rhyme began entertaining children, pigs have had a secure place in childhood lore. This season is no exception. Here are three fresh-off-the-press porcine offerings from veterans and newcomers.
PIGSTY, written and illustrated by Mark Teague (Scholastic, unpaged, $13.95, ages 6 to 9). In his latest book, Mark Teague capitalizes on the scolding most kids have heard: ``Your room is turning into a pigsty!'' For young Wendell Fultz that comment has amazing veracity.
Returning to his room after such a scolding, the boy finds a real pig on his bed. At first Wendell doesn't mind, but as his room grows messier and messier, more pigs come to visit.
Finally, after finding hoof prints on his comic books and chewed corners on his baseball cards, Wendell decides a pigsty may not be the best place to live. Bright acrylic illustrations give weight to the humorous situations in the text.
HAMLET AND THE ENORMOUS CHINESE DRAGON KITE, written and illustrated by Brian Lies (Houghton Mifflin, unpaged, $14.95, ages 4 to 8). This book is a worthy first effort by author-illustrator Brian Lies. His artistry shines in watercolor illustrations, visual jokes, and the laugh-out-loud expressions of his characters. Hamlet the pig and his porcupine buddy, Quince, get involved in a grand comic adventure when Hamlet buys a huge kite that ends up lifting him skyward.
Quince frets and scurries, full of ``I told you so.'' But after Hamlet's inglorious release from the kite, Quince greets him in true friendship - with a cup of frothy hot chocolate.
ZEKE PIPPIN, written and illustrated by William Steig (HarperCollins, unpaged, $15, ages 3 and up). William Steig's 25th book for children is scheduled to be released on his 85th birthday: November 14. In this delightful story, Zeke, a charming little porker, finds a harmonica and practices until he's quite accomplished. He learns, though, that his concerts put family members to sleep.
No longer able to bear the rudeness, Zeke runs away from home only to realize his harmonica is magic and puts everyone to sleep. Adventures ensue but culminate in a happy ending. Steig's clever phrases give welcome texture to the story, and his amusing illustrations make this a good addition to any Steig collection.