The Pig Who Saved the World by Gryllus the Pig
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This issue’s cover shows Neil Gaiman (photo © Kelli Bickman) with his book The Comical Tragedy or Tragical Comedy of Mr Punch illustrated by Dave McKean. Neil Gaiman is interviewed by Nicholas Tucker. Thanks to Bloomsbury for their help with this November cover.
Gryllus, once one of Odysseus’s sailors, was turned into a pig by Circe. Subsequent to saving the world (in The Pig Scrolls), Gryllus returns to Circe’s island along with the priestess Sybil and the ‘teenage epic poet’ Homer, in hopes of being restored to human form. However, Gryllus, whose main ambition is to open a pie shop, is once again thrown into a desperate attempt to save the world, this time from a plot to overthrow the Olympians and Death himself. Despite Gryllus’s cowardice and general stupidity, the world is, of course, saved, though perhaps good luck and Sybil’s persistence have more to do with this than he does. Gryllus is left in porcine form, doubtless so he can save the world again in a third book.
Gryllus’s hypocrisy and inadequacies make him a very entertaining narrator, and all 272 pages are stuffed with joke after joke. Full of incident, this is a flippant romp through many ancient characters and concepts and a very attractive way to introduce young readers to Greek mythology. My only reservations are that readers with no prior knowledge of the original stories and ideas may miss much of the comedy, and that it might be hard for a young reader to distinguish between what genuinely originated in Greek culture and what comes purely from Shipton’s lively imagination. EMc