When Pigs Fly, Kids and Parents Smile

by On May 7, 2013 in Childrens Books, General




Bookboard kids get to “star” their favorite reads and return to enjoy them, again and again. For my daughter Hope, author/illustrator Chris Tougas’ Mechanimals?(Orca Book Publishers) earned a star rating early on.

“It’s the funny one with the farm animal robots!” she reminds me.

“Ah, yes, that one!” I smile and nod, happy to read it again. ?Both kids and parents should be entertained by the clever text and illustrations of this barnyard-meets-industrial-age flight-of-fancy tale.

Mechanimals tells the tale of a farmer who faces a serious challenge. A tornado has torn through his farm, blowing away all of his animals and leaving behind only piles of scrap metal. After giving it some thought, the farmer tells the neighbors his ingenious plan: he will use the metal to build animal robots to help him run the farm.

“When pigs fly,” the neighbors reply, clearly not convinced.

mechanimals-insideThe gauntlet thrown, the farmer proceeds to build his “mechanimals.” A loud and efficient alarm clock rooster?helps the farmer (and folks in China) start the day. “Chickbots” help with heavy lifting (while humorously flexing their newfound metal muscles). Cowbots with machine-part udders distribute fuel and chocolate milk. (If your kid is like mine, they will love that detail.)

Finally, there is also the pigbot, on which the farmer triumphantly flies at the stories’ end. He has “turned this mess into a masterpiece,” much to the amazement of those doubting Thomas neighbors.

I agree with the chorus of reviewers who find much to love about this clever book: the “quirky and original storyline,” the tale’s potential appeal to inventors young and old, and particularly the wonderful illustrations (bright watercolor drawings of the action are set against a background of softly painted, intricate images of tools and machines – take your time admiring the details).

In our home, there was an added reason to like the book.? Hope loves learning new words but she loves learning “expressions” even more. Now that she understands what the expression “when pigs fly” means, she loves being in on the joke here – it makes her smile, just like her parents. And if mommy or daddy happens to say??“when pigs fly,” Hope loves to remind us, “it could happen, just like in Mechanimals!”


Diana is a sociologist, freelance writer and mom, though rarely in that order. Her writing spans topics from parenting joys and challenges to prevention education. She writes a monthly parenting blog for Yahoo and has published feature articles on adoption, family rituals and the childcare industry for parenting publications. Diana earned her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California at Santa Cruz. These days find her hanging with her husband and book-loving six year old in the San Francisco Bay Area, while happily blogging and serving as a reading advocate for Bookboard.

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