Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm and Other Lost Treasures!

Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Farm and Other Lost Treasures!

By March Twisdale

I grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Long before high tech games and distractions became ubiquitous and childhood changed in so many ways.

Gone are the days when children burst forth into their neighborhoods, playing Red Light, Green Light in the streets, dodging slow-moving cars headed home as the work day came to an end. No longer do street lamps stare down at a kaleidoscope of play, until, with the flickering of their bulbs, they trigger a fleet-footed diaspora of children racing home for dinner (and to avoid getting in trouble for being late).

Where, today, do gaggles of children discover myriad nooks, crannies, and other hiding spots, while playing every version of Hide & Seek or Tag imaginable? Who remembers the hundreds of rhymes chanted by girls, slapping their hands in rapid, coordinated moves? Most have been lost from memory, in one generation.

My childhood activities existed almost entirely in the minds of those alive at the time. Like most oral histories, if you distract (or wipe out) a generation or two, you lose much. From clay tablets and cave paintings, cuneiform and hieroglyphics, the printing press, typewriters, and now digital ones and zeros, the written word is simply more resilient.

And so, from Chaucer to Machiavelli, Shakespeare to C.S. Lewis, Upton Sinclair to Jane Austen … our past is filled with awesome stories waiting to be re-discovered.

Which brings me to a collection of children’s books written by our island’s own Betty MacDonald! Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is a character every child (and parent) deserves to meet. I’ve read all of her books at least a dozen times, seeking out these beloved books in libraries from Santa Barbara to Reno, Sacramento to Morro Bay, Walnut Creek to Santa Cruz, and now here on Vashon Island.

As a child, I knew these books met a deep need within myself. Now, I can see the three ways in which Betty MacDonald eased my childhood concerns. First, it was always clear, in a subtle way, that the parents were a part of the problem. Second, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle didn’t “fix” a single child. They fixed themselves. No lectures necessary, although some of her magical animals flung a few pointed words about! And third, to the best of my memory, the driving force behind each child’s decision to change was responsibility and empathy.

I heartily recommend borrowing these books and reading them with your children. At home, or perhaps in a quiet corner of our beautiful library on a cold, rainy day. For the camaraderie, the laughter, the magic, and the easy, peaceful fun of it.

If you choose to buy these books, I hope you’ll choose older, used versions, illustrated by Maurice Sendak or Hilary Knight, as their artwork most closely matched Betty MacDonald’s own view of her beloved characters and the ethos of the time. Enjoy!

February 8, 2023

About Author

March Twisdale

march March Twisdale has called Vashon Island home for nearly twenty years. A lifelong advocate of independent thought, March believes there are as many right choices as there are people in the world. She looks forward to bringing inspiring content to Vashon Loop readers, as she's done for eight years with her radio show - Prose, Poetry & Purpose. Find her on by searching "Our Thoughts Matter."