I just read in today’s New York Times that Dick-King Smith, the author of The Sheep Pig (aka Babe) died this past Tuesday at the age of 88. As I read King-Smith’s obituary, the pictures running through my mind were from the final scene of the movie in which the farmer (actor James Cromwell) says to Babe: “That’ll do pig. That’ll do.” The movie may not be what King-Smith, the author of more than 100 books, would want me to remember, but there it is. I love the movie – one of the very few movies based on a children’s novel that, in my opinion, captures the spirit of the author’s work.
King-Smith created warm and wonderfully old-fashioned stories about animals, most often about pigs. He wrote books that we check out every week in the Inly Library, and stories that kids will read for generations. One of my favorites is Lady Lollipop, the story of a rude princess who wants a pig for her eighth birthday. You know how it will turn out from the beginning, but it is a wonderful read-aloud that conveys the author’s well known affection for pigs.
My son loves pigs, and he has since he was three-years-old. We discovered King-Smith’s novels early and read many of them. One of my son’s favorite books was All Pigs are Beautiful. In this book, he felt like he had a friend who understood exactly how he felt. It’s worth noting that since King-Smith entered our lives thirteen years ago, we have not eaten pepperoni or bacon. How many children’s authors can claim that kind of influence!