Life is good. Pug has a nice home, a bowl with his name on it, and a yard where he works. He even has a soft bed all his own. It’s everything he needs and a little bit more. Until one day, the door opens and out trots Pig. Uh oh! Things are about to change.
Sue Gallion’s charming debut about navigating change and solving conflict is a gem! Sue joins us today to talk about the inspiration and revision of PUG Meets PIG.
DIANNE: Kids don’t always believe that story ideas hide in all sorts of places. If not in our own homes, stories may hide as close as next door, somewhere in the neighborhood, or even at school.
I know your dog, Tucker, isn’t a pug. And Tucker’s never met a pig. So if the story isn’t based on YOUR pug or pig . . . where did the idea for PUG meets PIG come from?
SUE: The idea for this story showed up in a very unusual place – a swimming pool! At my water exercise class, a friend told me that her daughter’s family had just adopted a rescue pig. They already had a pug, named Charlotte, and a baby, named Zachary. They loved animals and wanted to help out a pig that needed a home. They named the pig Wilbur, just like the pig in one of my favorite children’s books, CHARLOTTE’S WEB.
The idea of a pug and pig playing together made me laugh. Both are roly-poly and round, with curly tails. And it’s fun to say “pug” and “pig” together.
DIANNE: I love this story so much! It’s about belonging and change, problems and resolutions, all tied up in the nicest bow of lovely language and Joyce Wan’s expressively empathetic and adorable illustrations.
Sometimes students don’t realize that what seems like a fairly straightforward story, can often take a lot of time to draft and revise so that every word is perfect. Can you talk about revision and offer students a few words about why or how revision helps you as a writer?
SUE: The book ended up with only 236 words in the text. There were a lot more words to start with! I don’t know how many versions of the story I wrote.
Some of my revisions had to do with the plot. I wrestled with how to have Pug solve his own problem to help Pig, without some human coming in and saving the day.
Other revision work was playing with specific words, or punctuation. In a book with so few words, every word is especially important. When Pig appears on the scene, she “trots” out the door. That verb gives clues to her personality. It would be different if she walked, or tiptoed, or wandered.
Punctuation changes meaning, too. For example, the book ends like this: “Pug is happy at home . . . and so is Pig.” An exclamation point at the end of the book would give a whole different feeling when you close the book at bedtime than a period. In writing, all the details count. And they make a difference.
DIANNE: Another part of writing that kids aren’t always aware of is the reading/writing connection – the fact that the things we read often find their way into our writing. Teachers sometimes call books that influence a particular story or piece of writing a “mentor text.”
Was there one author or book that served as a “mentor” for PUG MEETS PIG? If not, do you have a favorite picture book author? (One of my all-time faves is Cynthia Rylant.)
SUE: I think it would be Marla Frazee’s BOOT AND SHOE (Beach Lane Books/Simon & Schuster, 2013). I really admire Marla’s matter-of-fact storytelling style, and of course, her marvelous illustrations. Like Boot and Shoe, Pug and Pig live in a home with no apparent human owners. Somehow, the dog bowl is filled with kibble at suppertime, though! And Boot and Shoe have a doggy door, too. I like their independence.
DIANNE: What’s next? Any chance there’s another PUG and PIG book in the works?
SUE: Yes, PUG & PIG TRICK OR TREAT comes out in 2017 in time for Halloween. The inspiration for this book comes from the relationship between my dog and the dog next door. I’ve seen preliminary sketches, and I can tell you that Joyce Wan makes Halloween absolutely adorable, which will be no surprise to any Joyce Wan fans.
We’ll be looking forward to PUG & PIG Trick or Treat! Thanks for stopping by ReaderKidZ, Sue!