Feeling like the odd one out in a bunch is the pits. It takes time and exposure to grow confidence with yourself as an individual and take pride in the attributes that make you unique. Children blatantly lack both time and exposure, so helping to nurture qualities of self-confidence and acceptance is crucial for parents. Luckily, Joy Steuerwald has written and illustrated an adorable story to demonstrate that our differences are not qualities that should be viewed as embarrassing, they are characteristics that make life interesting and wonderful.

Reminiscent of the beloved story of The Ugly Duckling, Steuerwald’s The Peculiar Pig (Nancy Paulsen Books) follows a puppy who yearns to be accepted among a litter of piglets. While Penny the puppy’s differences at first ostracize her from her brothers and sisters, she eventually learns that the attributes that set her apart are celebratory in their own right.

One spring morning, there was a different sort of piglet in the pigpen. Well, to be completely transparent, the new piglet is a puppy. But the puppy just wants to be one of the piglets. Mama Pig doesn’t care, she loves her piglets all the same, including her peculiar puppy piglet, Penny. However, the piglets realize that there are many differences between them and their new sister. While the piglets grow bigger, Penny grows longer. Penny is easily pushed aside when it is feeding time, but she is patient and waits her turn.

While the piglets oink to one another, Penny responds with a loud woofing sound. Penny’s piglet brothers and sisters complain that the woofing sounds hurt their ears. Though Penny enjoys digging with the piglets, she goes about it in a completely different way. The piglets dig with their snouts and to their befuddlement, Penny digs with her paws. Penny is saddened that her quirks seem to distance her from her siblings, but through it all Mama Pig supports her and promises that she loves her just the same.

One day, a dangerous snake slithers into the path of the piglets. Penny saves the day with her unique bark, scaring the snake away. Her brothers and sisters realize that having peculiar aspects isn’t something to be ashamed of. Differences add color to life and can even prove to be extremely helpful. This book is essential in teaching young ones the importance of owning their differences and being open-minded to characteristics that set others apart.

Steuerwald’s colorful illustrations are charming and the characters couldn’t be cuter if they tried. The Peculiar Pig is a fantastic addition to any child’s reading room, a new classic to be cherished.

The Peculiar Pig will be available to purchase June 18, 2019.


Joy Steuerwald found herself drawing as soon as she could hold a pencil. So winning her first art contest in 3rd grade just sealed her fate; Joy was destined to be an illustrator. She graduated from San Jose State’s animation and illustration program with a Bachelor of Science Degree and has created art for the educational market, the giftware industry, and children’s book publishing. Joy usually sketches with blue Col-Erase pencil, adds a pencil line, then uses Photoshop to add textures, details and color to create art that is playful and fresh. Writing stories is something Joy looks forward to doing more of as well. Her muse is a miniature, red, short haired Dachshund who has been joined by a small, human boy. Visit her site at http://www.joystewy.com/