Hey cHEwY gum gums
Thai-riffic! isn’t the only funny book to turn 1o this year.
Nanny Piggins is also celebrating her 10th birthday. R.A Spratt is having a party at the Children’s Bookshop in Beecroft this Saturday afternoon. I won’t be able to make it because I’m up on the Gold Coast for Storyfest (more on that next week), but I want to give some love to this nanny with trotters
Back before I became published, I was reviewing Random House books for Buzz Words (e-mag for children book industry news). I reviewed a lot of authors who are now mainstays in the scene, like Tristan Bancks, Jacqueline Harvey and Belinda Murrell, but there was a fresh voice on the scene that struck a chord with me.
Rachel came from a TV comedy background, so she already had those comedy tools in the bag, and well…the result is gold (Jerry).
Why do I love Nanny Piggins so much? It’s in the name. Nanny Piggins is a pig who looks after Mr Green’s kids. Mr Green is the unreliable and overworked parent on steroids. He really hates his kids and the feeling is mutual. All it takes is one little chapter to set the scene, and then it’s a permission note for Nanny Piggins and the kids to have some crazy adventures. And oh my, do they have some cracking adventures. They do dangerous things. They eat chocolate cake. Sometimes they do both at the same time. It’s the kind of unsupervised bliss that I would have loved to have taken part in, if I was a kid.
Rachel does such a great job in nailing Nanny Piggins’ un-PC characteristics, that she had enough material to fill nine books. Each book contains short stories, mini-episodes, where Rachel takes one little scenario and milks it for all its worth.
As an aspiring writer analysing Nanny Piggins, it’s situation comedy 101.
For example, in the fourth Nanny Piggins book (The Accidental Blast Off), there’s one story where Nanny Piggins signs up to be the lollypop lady because she thinks she’ll have a giant lollipop to hold. When she finds out the truth, she takes her wooden stop sign and finds better things to stop than just traffic. It’s a wild idea that keeps growing and growing.
If you dig deeper into the stories and look at her words, Rachel squeezes in so many jokes and irrelevant lines that only switched on kids and adults would get. It’s biting satire that you’d expect from a sketch show. Like in her fifth book, Nanny Piggins is up against a rival ringmaster from Cirque De Soul, which is in her own words, ‘one of those awful artistic circuses where they play classical music and impossibly thin acrobats hang by their teeth from the ceiling for ages while the audience is meant to contemplate their own insignificance.’
There have been countless times where I just had to stop reading and admire Rachel’s craftiness, for pushing boundaries and poking fun at everything in society, using Nanny Piggins as a platform. While there were nine books (or seasons as I call them), I have a soft spot for the first book, because while I was editing Thai-riffic!, it gave me the confidence to be out there and bold.
R.A Spratt has continued to shine with her brilliant detective series, Friday Barnes and more recently, with the Peski Kids. Rachel’s irrelevant humour is still there in spades. If you think I am crazy in my author talks, you haven’t seen Rachel in action. She is dangerous haha.
So I’ll be having a piece of chocolate cake to celebrate my favourite nanny and pig. If you haven’t discovered Nanny Piggins yet, do yourself a favour and check it out. Nanny Piggins is the series that I wished that I’d written, it’s something so daring and outrageous, as well as being funny in all the wrong and right ways.