The Princess and the Pig

illustrated by Poly Bernatene

There’s been a dreadful mix-up in the royal nursery! Priscilla the princess has switched places with a farmer’s piglet and everyone suspects fairies. It’s the sort of thing that happens all the while in books. But this is a fairy tale without fairies and this is no ordinary book . . .

“This is the #1 most subversive princess book out there.”

“Emmett and Bernatene have concocted a pretty much perfect fractured fairy tale, with wry, Thurberesque prose and gorgeously funny digital drawings that both embrace and wink at the genre.”

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Edith Bowman on the

UK Print-On-Demand Paperback: 
ISBN: 978-1838110581
(Originally published in the UK by Macmillan Children’s Books)


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Author's Note

I’m often asked where I get my ideas from and one answer is that I steal them from my kids. I stole this particular story from my daughter Laura when she was four years-old. Laura and I were walking back from nursery when she spotted a piggy bank in a shop window. The piggy bank had been decorated with jewels and other ornaments, which prompted Laura to exclaim “Princess Pig!”.

This sounded like a funny idea, so as we walked the rest of the way home we talked about how a princess could also be a pig. Perhaps she was a member of a pig royal family? Or perhaps she was a human princess who’d been turned into a pig. By the time we got home, we’d decided that it would be funniest if an ordinary pig had somehow swapped places with a real princess and that I should write a story about it.

Laura was a big fan of the Disney Princesses at the time but, though I admired the original films, I felt some of the messages she was getting from the spin-off books and magazines were a little questionable. They seemed to suggest that royalty were inherently better than ordinary people and that marrying a handsome prince should be every girl’s dream. So I decided to write a story that showed that a princess is no better or worse than an ordinary person and that you don’t have to marry a prince to live happily ever after!

I’ve described the book as “a fairy tale without fairies” as, while the story is set in a fairy tale like world, there’s no magic spells cast or broken and no fairies – good or bad – to cast them. However the characters in this story are reading well known fairy tales, such as Sleeping Beauty and Thumbelina, and their knowledge of these tales influences their behaviour in the story.

The story was quickly accepted by UK publisher Macmillan, but it was a couple of years before an illustrator started work on it as Macmillan decided it made sense for whoever illustrated The Santa Trap (another of my stories which they were also publishing) to illustrate this book as well. It was another eighteen months before we eventually found a suitable illustrator – the extraordinarily talented Poly Bernatene – who turned out to be an ideal choice for both books and well worth the wait.

Traditional in feel, but with an ironic, contemporary twist, Poly’s digital illustrations match the story perfectly. One of my personal favourites is the illustration of the throne room (shown below). There’s some terrific texture and detail in it and Poly has masterfully captured the quality of light in this huge space. You can imagine how humbled the farmer and his family might feel, presenting themselves before the King and Queen in this grand setting.

Poly’s illustration of the throne room.

Click on the image to see a larger version.


“Emmett and Bernatene have concocted a pretty much perfect fractured fairy tale, with wry, Thurberesque prose and gorgeously funny digital drawings that both embrace and wink at the genre.
Once upon a time, an infant princess and a piglet inadvertently swap places. The princess grows up in a poor but doting family of farmers, matures into a sweet young woman, and ends up marrying a handsome shepherd and living happily ever after. The piglet grows up amid pretentious, clueless royalty and matures into an untamable pink menace that wreaks well-deserved havoc in the castle and is foisted on an unlucky prince.
And how do the grownups involved process these events? With the refrain, “It’s the sort of thing that happens all the time in books”–which proves that relying on Sleeping Beauty, Thumbelina, The Prince and the Pauper, Puss in Boots, and The Frog Prince for answers is not unlike using the Internet as an unimpeachable source. Just ask the stunned prince, who discovers on the final page that ‘putting lipstick on a pig’ has a whole new meaning. Ages 4–8.”

“It has all the ingredients of a sure-fire winner: cute little piglet, baby, princess and a knowing nod at several established fairy tales along the way. The pictures are beautiful, bold; the story is very funny and everyone ends the story happy (except maybe the rather stupid prince who marries the pig in the naive and untested hope that a kiss will turn her back into a princess). What’s not to like?”
Yvonne Coppard, CAROUSEL

“The Princess and the Pig is a story that children ages of 4–8 will delight in: both for its familiarity and its twist. Author Emmett stays true to the humorous and unique style that readers come to expect from his books. The illustrations by Poly Bernatene are amazingly detailed, with bright colors and lots of whimsy that will cause children to laugh at the trouble the pig gets into at the castle. Recommended.”

“Mischief and mayhem are afoot in this subversive and witty fairy tale when a piglet and princess get accidentally swapped. Wickedly humorous, it’s especially funny when readers discover the reason for the swap: because the careless queen can’t stand the smell of the royal nappy! So the piglet (Priscilla) and princess (Pigmella) grow up in their vastly different households, creating absurd contrasts in life style, illustrated with hilarious pictures … For anyone who doesn’t fit in or any toddler who’s ever needed taming, this is the book.”
Jana Novotny Hunter, BOOK FOR KEEPS

“Bound to lure in little princess-lovers, The Princess and the Pig is a bit of sly subversion just perfect for the preschooler set. Fun and funny, beautiful and smart, read the book and fail to be charmed. Go on. I dare you.”