Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, by Betty MacDonald, was published in 1957 by Harper. It is the sequel to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.
Have you ever heard of Leadership Pills? Or Crybaby Tonic? Or Whisper Sticks? You won’t find them in your corner drugstore. The only way to get these magical medicines is to call Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. When Phillip Carmody turns into a Show-off, and Nicholas Semicolon acts like a Bully, and Harbin Quadrangle becomes a Slowpoke, their desperate parents pick up the phone and consult Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. She has an old sea chest full of magic cures for children (left to her by her husband the pirate) and can supply the perfect remedy every time. Of course, although they’re very efficient, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s cures have some comical consequences, too…making these remarkable adventures of her young friends a cheerful prescription for just about anyone.
Let me confess something here: Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is not technically the sequel to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. It’s actually the sequel to Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm, the third book in the series, and thus actually the fourth book. But growing up, I read Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle as if it was the second book, not the fourth, and, to be honest, I think it makes much more sense to do so. One reason is that in Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has relocated to, well, a farm, whereas in this book she is apparently back in her old house.
Of course, reading the books out of order like this does make for an odd juxtaposition. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was full of “cures” for poor behavior, but those cures were sensible things: labeling all of your selfish kid’s things, letting your messy child get away with not cleaning his room, letting your kids who don’t want to go bed to stay up as long as they want. The only cure not particularly “realistic” was the Radish Cure. Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, however, does away with sensible cures and makes the cures completely magical instead. It’s an odd switch, but I’m guessing the actual second book, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic is thus named so as to let you know that things would be taking the turn for the fantastic.
The only reason I can think of for making Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s cures magical is that Betty MacDonald was afraid parents would actually prescribe her cures to their own children, so she made them magical so as to gainsay that. Or she thought it would appeal to children more if there was magic in there. Whatever the case, I thought some of the delight and charm from the first book became a little bit lost in Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, if only because magical cures are a little more banal to me than ones that are more realistic. Of course, I could also be still affected by my childhood, where Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was my least favorite book (although I still know this book basically by heart). Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic was my favorite, though, so we’ll see if I still feel that way when I read that one next.
Even though I thought that the magical cures were an abrupt, strange departure from the first book (perhaps as a result of me purposefully reading the books out of order), Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle still carries a tremendous amount of nostalgia for me. I read these books so many times growing up that even now, after not having read them for ten or more years, I still practically know them by heart—they feel familiar and comforting to me. Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is not my favorite Piggle-Wiggle book, but it’s still a good book for children, and a dearly loved book of my childhood.
Recommended Age Range: 6+
Phillip took the broom, held it up over his shoulders and began making loud zooming noises. “Hey, Mom,” he yelled, “watch me, I’m a jet plane. Here I go for a take-off.”
As he said “Watch me,” he began to disappear—with “take-off” he was gone.
Humming contentedly his mother took the lid off the steam and poked the brown bread.