Mister Topper, The Potbellied Pig

Category: Animals & Pets
Author: Liam Maher
Artist: Vanda Lavar
Print ISBN: 9781616330576; 1616330570
eBook ISBN: 9781616330583; 1616330589

A fanciful story of a pot-bellied pig who needs a home and pretends he is lucky. After fruitless searches for warmth and a new home, finally Mr. Topper discovers he is indeed a lucky potbellied pig.

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Mr. Topper the Lucky Potbellied Pig, by Liam Maher, is illustrated by Vanda Lavar, showing Mr. Topper as a beautiful, sweet-looking pig, wearing a handsome red scarf... has the flavor of a folk tale, with the narrator sometimes speaking casually to the reader. Well, at first it doesn't seem as if Mr. Topper is lucky. He is caught in a blizzard with no owner, no food, and no shelter. He goes in search of "Someone who will pet and pamper me, and feed me whenever I go Oink! Oink!" This is the kind of refrain children love to join in when a story is read to them and it is repeated several times throughout the story. Hoping to find such a person, Mr. Topper has the idea to pass himself off as a lucky pig. The first two people Mr. Topper approaches, a billionaire man and a billionaire woman, are selfish and stingy. The man reminds me of the villains in the old melodrama movies; I can fairly see him twirling his mustache. The woman looks much nicer than she is. She is more concerned about keeping her carpets clean than in helping a cold and hungry creature.

Finally Mr. Topper finds a kind woodcutter who takes him in. Their life together is happy until the woodcutter loses his job. And to beat all, the pig gets a tooth ache and has to go to the animal dentist to have his tooth pulled. Will Mr. Topper be able to come through on his promise of bringing good luck to his human friend? Now it appears that Mr. Topper is more clever than lucky. He uses his brains to help the woodcutter out of his difficulties. The ending is fun and very satisfying. Readers 4-8 (especially those who have lost a tooth) will enjoy the surprise ending.
--Barbara Bockman

Many people have potbellied pigs as pets, but Mr. Topper, the main character in Liam Maher's book, is homeless. He wants someone to take care of him, but can't find anyone willing to do that. Then he gets an idea; he'll pretend he can bring magical good luck to whoever takes him in. After several failed attempts, a kind-hearted person finally welcomes Mr. Topper into his home. But when his benefactor falls on hard times the pig really wants to bring him good luck. Is there any way he can help the kind human?

No spoilers intended here, but a child who has recently lost a tooth will probably especially enjoy this book. Perhaps it's because the author grew up in Ireland that the story reads like a classical folk tale, the sort that never goes out of style. Even the illustrations by Vanda Lavar remind me of pictures in books I enjoyed way back when I was a kid and I think children today will enjoy this book a lot.
--Janet Ann Collins