Quentin Corn by Mary Stolz

The Synopsis:

Realizing his fate is to be spareribs, a pig disguises himself as a boy, runs away, finds employment, and becomes friends with a little girl.


This review is written to parents and teachers, so there are spoilers present.

This book has been on my shelf for probably 5 years from where I nabbed it at a library sale. I likely felt compelled to add it to my shopping bag because of my love for Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White and it reminded me somewhat of that favorite tale.

Quentin Corn, like Wilbur (from Charlotte’s Web), is a pig who learns that the farmer he lives with is going to turn him into dinner in the next week. Unlike Wilbur however, he doesn’t have an awesome spider friend who can make him famous, so, Quentin Corn breaks out of his stall, steals a pair of farmer’s clothes, and heads into town with his newly found resolve to be a man.

This small chapter book is certainly written for the ages of 7-10, so it reads very simply and easily. Because it is an older book (originally published in the early 80s I believe), the vocabulary is much more advanced than what I see nowadays in this age group, but I think that that provides an excellent opportunity to broaden your kiddos’ use and understanding of words! You just might have to have some patience with explaining what many of the words mean (and keep a dictionary handy because I had to look up a few of them myself!).

The morals that I saw in the story were actually surprising to me. The concept of identity is the leading moral, when, at the very end of the book, Quentin meets another pig who asks him why he’s pretending to be something he’s not. His response is that he HAD to become a man or no one would like him and he would’ve become dinner. This new pig friend of Quentin’s then tells him that he was created to be a pig and do pig things and accepting that to be a free pig in the wild, even though it was dangerous (hunters, wolves, etc), it would free him from the need to pretend and the constant fear of someone discovering the truth about him. He was encouraged to be himself and in the end, that’s what he chose to do. And I really, really liked that.

There was also a lot “Bible talk” because this book is set in the mid ’50s when most everyone in small towns were “church-goers”. Quentin Corn learns about Job in the Bible, attends a church service and is invited to sing in the choir, and he and his human friend have many discussions over different Bible topics (such as prayer and lying or making up stories). There is no presentation of the Gospel or mention of Jesus Christ, however, and beyond just learning about the Bible, Quentin Corn really has no part in being a “christian model”–which is just fine with me because I don’t think it would’ve fit well with this particular story. Instead he illustrates and encourages kids to engage in those thought-provoking conversations with their friends, and I think that’s something that lacks in today’s young friendships. Having those conversations that build character and develop beliefs among young people.

Overall, I’m happy that I got distracted from my bookshelf spring cleaning and decided to finally read this book, because if I hadn’t read it right then, it likely would have been pitched in the pile I was making. Instead, it has found its permanent home on my “classics for kids” shelf and I look forward to introducing it one day to my munchkins. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

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