RoadTrip America

Routes, Planning, & Inspiration for Your North American Road Trip

Swine Not? A Novel, by Jimmy Buffett (Read by L.J. Ganser)

"My name is Rumpy, and I live at Flutbein's Hotel." Unlike Eloise, the little girl who lived at the Plaza, Rumpy is a pig. Jimmy Buffet's lighthearted, comical tale of a family who lives at a posh New York City hotel and hides their pet pig was inspired by the actual experience of illustrator, Helen Bransford. Wait a minute! A pig in a five-star hotel? An illustrator for an audio book? What's going on? When Jimmy Buffet saw his friend Helen's photo-illustrations and commentary about hiding her pet pig at the Carlyle Hotel, he said, "Swine Not?" He wrote the book and included her illustrations on CD #5 of the audio book.

Although they were born in New York City, since their parents' divorce, twins Barley and Maple McBride have been living in Vertigo, Tennessee, with their mother and a pet pig, Rumpy. Barley's dream is to become a soccer star and play for the New York Red Bulls. Maple's is to use her fashion design talents to work with noted New York designer Karen Woo and Rumpy's is to find his brother, Lukie. When Ellie accepts a job as pastry chef at Flutbein's on Fifth Avenue in New York, it looks like they'll all be closer to fulfilling their goals. The madcap fun begins when they all move into the exclusive hotel with the "No Exotic Pets" policy and attempt to hide Rumpy from the hotel staff and guests. Topping the list of threats is cleaver-wielding head chef Boucher, who's determined to find Rumpy and turn him into an entrée. The twins and Rumpy, however, find allies in a flock of pigeons known as the pigilantes.

This book, narrated alternately by Barley and Rumpy, is a delight for anyone willing to suspend belief for a few hours and allow imagination to reign. Rumpy and the other animals are able to communicate with each other, and they can understand the humans but are not able to speak to them. The conversations among the animals and their observations of human behavior are both amusing and insightful. Barley also offers words of wisdom when he describes soccer. "Soccer is a team sport where you have to depend on and get help from strangers," he says. "After you help them or they help you, they become your friends." As Barley applies this principle to his life, Buffett is reminding listeners to do the same. Buffett augments the story by touching on local geography in both the Tennessee and New York settings. He talks about the "Widow of the South" of the Battle of Franklin fame as well as the wonders of New York City life. This book is appropriate for adult, teen or younger listeners. While it can be enjoyed by a single listener, try it for a family road trip. Swine Not?

Ruth Mormon

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