Pig Will and Pig Won't - a terrific book by Richard Scarry that belongs back in print

Jane and I love Richard Scarry's illustrated kids' books. He had a sly sense of humor and it appeals as much to adults as it does to kids. I saw Jane reading Pig Will and Pig Won't tonight and we thought it would be fun to talk about the book and share a small sample. It's a book that teaches kids about polite manners. It's similar to Goofus and Gallant from Highlights magazine, but Goofus and Gallant wasn't nearly as good as this book. Pig Will and Pig Won't is full of delightful jokes and surprises, while Goofus and Gallant is grim and preachy.

Surprisingly, the book is out of print! Amazon has some used copies for about $15, which isn't bad, but I think the publisher should get this back into print, pronto!

Note: don't bother with any books or cartoons "based on" Richard Scarry's characters. They stink.

Pig Will and Pig Won't


  1. You can get this story and more in “Richard Scarry’s Please and Thank You Book” — http://www.amazon.com/Richard-Scarrys-Please-Thank-Pictureback/dp/0394826817. A lot of his stories have been combined into these short paperback anthologies. This book also includes “Lowly Worm’s Horrid Pests,” describing the “Selfish Pest,” “Litterbug Pest,” “Gobbling Pest” and others.

    1. That book was one of my childhood favorites. I still have my (quite battered) copy around… And I’m 35 now. Also, since I’m from Argentina the one I have is a spanish language edition called “Por favor y muchas gracias”. To me Pigs Will and Won’t were “Chanchito SÍ” and “Chanchito No” until seconds ago.

  2. Book exists.  Bought in last 6 months for my sons 3rd birthday.

    Pig Will will attend the birthday party.  Pig Won’t won’t attend the birthday party as he has a cold.

    Got it as part of a box set.  (Australia)  It also has “Things that go” and a few other books.

  3. It’s similar to Goofus and Gallant from Highlights magazine, but Goofus and Gallant wasn’t nearly as good as this book. Pig Will and Pig Won’t is full of delightful jokes and surprises, while Goofus and Gallant is grim and preachy.

    Goofunfelder thought that Paul Verhoeven’s Starship Troopers was an unapologetic ode to fascism meant to be taken at face value.

    Gallanfelder appreciates the sly subversiveness of a comic drawn to entertain the more repressed class of seven-year-old in dentist’s waiting rooms, yet worthy of ironic appreciation by jaded twentysomething stoners.

  4. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the Busytown Mysteries cartoon series, it’s a quality kids show (at least my kid likes it). The Pig Will and Pig Won’t characters evolve from book prototypes in season 1 to brotherly disagreement in season 2, but the show generally is witty, clever, secular humanist (think scooby doo), and a little bit happy mutant.
    Worth a look on Netflix.

  5. I get the Scooby Doo thing but think it could’ve been worded better. Especially since kids’ shows don’t need the real kind.

  6. Gaaah!

    Dissenting opinion: do NOT expose your young kids to this book!!!

    Mark I’m quite surprised to find that your endorsement of PW&PW was not tongue in cheek — that book has held a special place in our (adult) bookshelf as an eye-poppingly authoritarian morality tale that culminates in the total relinquishing of individual identity!

    No need to be alarmist, but the way Scarry models the glazed-eye eager full socialization and obedience of Pig Will was on first read so unexpected and disturbing, I spent the entire thing waiting for the ‘reveal’ that Pig Won’t is actually accepted and embraced…

    …but it’s not to be. Since then I’ve read ALL Scarry with a different eye, observing the relationship he proposes between state and individual, how law and order is represented, etc. His views are arguably (despite their irrepressible whimsy and humor) quite conservative.

    I don’t find that personally objectionable until they reach the level of PW&PW — but I wouldn’t let my four year old near that book!

    Compare the Hildafolk books Cory recommended (and my daughter loves), in which a very independent heroine has to make real decisions of moral consequence according to her own intuition, and learns about consequences…

    …Pig Won’t is merely hammered down, and the morality tale is accomplished by act of divine retribution :P.

    NOT a fan of this one (except as a conversation piece among consenting and generally equally horrified adult peers)…

    (NB: most other Scarry classics are in circulation in our house.)


  7. I worked as a story artist and layout man at the Little Beans studio in Ottawa in the eighties, producing award winning television animations such as “Sunny and Sons”, “Apple a Day”,  “Grandfather Wolf’s Stories”, “Soup & Sandwich” and the more-for-adults/after ten PM programme “Maple Leaves”.  We had a grand time working in commercials too, producing PSAs warning of the dangers of chewing tobacco, and the need to keep your car windows clean.  Most prominently, we were the award winning studio responsible for the Claymation series “Pig Will and Pig Won’t”, based on Dick Scarry’s book.  The series ran for six years, starting in 1980 and running into 1987.  PW & PW won Canada’s coveted Crown Award three times, first in 1981 and then again in ’83 and ’85, the last year the Crown was awarded to a children’s television programme.  We also took the top award in children’s education from the Canadian Council of Schools, winning the bronze in 1984 and further, we won Ottawa’s Pork Awareness Prize in 1985.  Scarry’s Pigs Will and Won’t are aninstitution here in the North.  I urge all fans and parents to have a look around for the VHS collection, due out this Spring!

  8. One of my favourite books as a child was Scarry’s “Cars and Trucks and Things That Go”.  Try finding “Goldbug” on every page!  Now it happens to be my daughter’s favourite book too – good taste that girl has.

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