What to Do with a Hitchhiking Pig

About a month ago, the happy man and his dump truck came into our lives.

More accurately: The Happy Man and His Dump Truck  came into our lives.

The Happy Man and His Dump Truck (Little Golden Book)

My mom bought this “Little Golden Book Classic” for Zoe because Zoe loves animals and vehicles (happy men, she can go either way), and this book has both.

Once upon a time there was a man who had a dump truck.  Every time he saw a friend, he would wave his hand and tip the dumper.

So our tale begins.  Next, the happy man gives a pig a ride.  When they get to the farm where the pig’s friends live (he is a traveling pig, apparently), the happy man gives the pig and his friends a ride.  He tips the dumper, and they love it.  He then opens the tailgate and tips the dumper, providing a “fine sliding board” for all the animals when they’re back at the farm.  Everyone thanks the happy man, who rides off in his dump truck, singing a happy song.

I find this book fascinating, because it has absolutely no conflict and very little action.  Just a big scruffy guy driving farm animals around in a dump truck, and a heartwarming moment, as they pass the startled farmer, when the happy man declares, “They are all my friends,” waves his hand, and tips the dumper.  (Pro Tip: That’s what friends do.)

Darrell Gipson, 13, Son of Mr. and Mrs. Wayne Gipson, Who Lives near Gruetli, Tennessee, near Chattanooga, Feeds Pigs after School 12/1974

When I read some of the Amazon reviews for The Happy Man and His Dump Truck (Pro Tip: There are some beauties out there), I thought I had found a kindred spirit.  Here he is:

The artwork is nice but the story is rather pointless.

It is sort of pointless, I thought.  I mean, shouldn’t something actually . . . happen?

But, no.  The reviewer was looking for a theme or lesson or message to give his children along with the book.  Something like heroism, or courage, or teamwork, or musical instrument recognition.

Now, these are all perfectly good messages.  I want my kid to get all of that stuff, for sure.  But I think that this pointless little book does have some underlying messages.  So, here’s what I learned from the happy man (and his dump truck):

1. Dump trucks make everyone happy, be they men or farm animals.

2. Somewhere in the world, chickens say “cucka cucka.”

3. If you see a pig going along the road, for heaven’s sake: give him a ride in your dump truck.

What’s the most (or least) helpful thing you’ve learned from a book?

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8 Comments

Filed under Book Report

8 responses to “What to Do with a Hitchhiking Pig

  1. Kristin

    [crazy lady sitting in her office, laughing out loud]

    What are Zoe’s thoughts on Happy and his truck? I’m curious whether it appeals to the 2-year-old set.

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    • Zoe is a big fan! She instantly stopped crying when I held it in front of her before bedtime tonight. (She started crying again until she got two Wheat Thins, but still.) Do note, however, that she will be joining the 3-year-old set in just a few months. It is bananas, but it is true.

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  2. We have that book and my six year old will still pull it out to read. I really don’t know that all childrens’ books must have a message or a lesson that is obvious. If they are enjoying books, that is enough, for me, as it still fosters a basis for a love of reading. As my kindergartener is reading at an almost 3rd grade level and still likes The Little Dump Truck, I’d say that it did it’s job just fine. Hope Zoe continues to enjoy it.

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    • No, they definitely don’t need an obvious lesson, Lisa! I mean, everyone doesn’t have to be the Wonderpets (praise God). Just holding it up to my cranky Zoe tonight helped convince her that, in fact, she did want to go to bed. So, I am happy with the happy man and his dump truck!

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      • I know so many parents who will only give their kids educational books, toys, etc, that they’d never pick this one for their child. It’s nice to have books and toys that just make the child happy with no message or lesson attached and to know parents who will give them to their children. So glad that Zoe is happy with it!

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      • For sure! I do like her TV shows to have at least some redeeming value (I mean, if we’re going to sit through Dora, at least it’s interactive and teaches her a little something, right?) but I will read her just about any book she likes. Although, I have become a little more judicious in my selections, not based on educational value but on whether or not I think the book will drive me slowly insane. I mean, I’m glad the Teletubbies love each other very much, but I don’t need to read about five times a day.

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  3. purpleowltree1234

    It’s about altruism, isn’t it? The happy man doesn’t need to ride around animals or give them fun sliding down the tray of his dump truck. But he does. And he’s happy! Moral: taking time and being flexible to make others happy makes You happy. ..?
    Rach.

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