Sean E Avery, Happy as a Hog out of Mud, Larrikin House, March 2021, 36 pp., RRP $24.99 (hbk), ISBN 9781922503008
Warthogs love to play in mud. But not Charlie—It’s Charlesworth actually—Oinkington. Charlesworth isn’t a common hog. He is a sophisticated hog who enjoys poetry, English Breakfast tea and bird watching. Charlesworth is so enlightened that, after a muddy mishap, he sets out to find new friends—sophisticated associates—who share his love of the finer things in life. When he spots the flamingos, Charlesworth feels, at last, he’s found some worthy friends. But it turns out they have less in common than he thought since flamingos have a tendency to complain about, well, everything. Charlesworth realises that given a choice between spending time with fun-loving muddy hogs and pompous pink puddle birds, he knows where he’d rather be.
Happy as a Hog out of Mud is a delightfully hilarious picture book with a lovely message of friendship, acceptance of others and being yourself. Charlesworth is a wonderfully original character, and the storyline is engaging with some unexpected twists and turns.
Sean E Avery’s illustrations add to the humour and story comprehension, with entertaining anthropomorphised animals depicted with comical expressions in amusing situations. Visually it’s quite chaotic—the mixed-media collage design is combined with text of varying font sizes and types—but it feels right for this book and adds to the fun when sharing the story with children.
Happy as a Hog out of Mud is also gross in the way young children like, with snot and a small poo joke thrown in for fun. I’d recommend this book for preschool-aged children, especially those who love playing in mud!
Reviewed by Bec Blakeney