Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is the title of a series of books by Betty MacDonald. The first book in this series is called Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (1947), and sequels include, in publication order, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm, Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, and Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle. In September 2016, a follow-up was published featuring the character's great-niece, Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure.
The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series stars a small woman who lives in an upside-down house in a lively neighborhood inhabited mainly by children who have bad habits.
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has a chest full of magical cures left to her by her deceased husband, Mr. Piggle-Wiggle, who was a pirate. In the first two books of the series, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (1947) and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic (1949), Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle provides parents with cures for their children's bad habits. Cures range from the mundane, (the Won't-Pick-Up-Toys Cure involves allowing a small boy to continue leaving his toys scattered about his room until the room becomes so messy he's unable to escape from his room) to the fantastic (the Interrupting Cure is a special powder that is blown on the interrupter, with the effect that it causes the person to become temporarily mute every time he/she tries to interrupt someone).
In the series' third book, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm (1954), Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle sells her house in town and purchases a farm, where with the assistance of a large assortment of animals she continues to help children overcome their bad habits. In this collection, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle uses no magic for her cures; the farm itself does the most good. In the fourth book, Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (1957) she has apparently returned to her original neighborhood and to her magical cures. No mention of the farm is made for the rest of the series.
The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle stories were based on bedtime stories Betty made up for her daughters, nephews, and nieces (and later grandchildren and grandnephews/-nieces). Some of the 151 children have the same names as members of the original audience (for example, there is a pair of brothers called Darsie and Bard). This explains some of the inconsistencies, such as Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle being either a good witch/fairy or just someone who understands child psychology better than most professors of the subject.
The final book in the series, Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle (2007), was published sixty years after the original, and is largely written by MacDonald's daughter, Anne MacDonald Canham (the two share a writing credit for this book). The first story in the book is an unpublished MacDonald story, while Anne explains in the book that the remaining stories are based on "notes for other stories among her mother's possessions."
The first edition of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was illustrated by Richard Bennett. Subsequent editions of Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic, and Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle are illustrated by Hilary Knight. Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm is illustrated by Maurice Sendak. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle is illustrated by Alexandra Boiger.
In September 2016, a follow-up to series was released, titled Missy Piggle-Wiggle and the Whatever Cure. The title was written by Ann M. Martin (known for The Baby-Sitters Club) and Annie Parnell (MacDonald's great-granddaughter), with illustrations by Ben Hatke. In this version of the series, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's husband is alive, but has gone missing, and Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle has set out in search of him, leaving her great-niece, Missy Piggle-Wiggle, in charge of the upside-down house. Missy Piggle-Wiggle soon begins helping the children in the neighborhood with her own take on Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's special magic and cures. The series is set in the modern era, though the nature of the problems and cures remains similar to those in the original novels. Following the publication of The Whatever Cure, Martin and Parnell are at work on a second title in the series.
The Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle Series
|Chapter Title||Main Character(s)||Problem/Misbehavior||Cure Employed||Other Children Introduced|
|Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Herself||Mary Lou Robertson, Kitty Wheeling||hates washing dishes (Mary Lou), hates making beds (Kitty)||makes both tasks a fun game and a race||Bobby Wheeling, Dicky Williams, Max|
|The Won't-Pick-Up-Toys Cure||Hubert Prentiss||won't pick up his toys||left alone with his toys until he is unable to leave his room||Charlie, Billy Peters, Tommy Peters, Ermintrude Bags, Gregory Moohead, Susan Grapple|
|The Answer-Backer Cure||Molly O'Toole (mostly called Mary in this book, renamed Molly subsequently)||Impudence||Penelope the parrot is equally rude, giving her a taste of her own medicine||Calliope Ragbag, Chuckie Keystop, Garry Garrison|
|The Selfishness Cure||Dick Thompson||Refuses to share anything||A special tool kit known as a "selfishness kit" labels everything as Dick's property, causing him embarrassment when other children ridicule him||Bobby Slater, Kenny Hatch|
|The Radish Cure||Patsy Waters||Won't take baths||Left alone so she is caked with dirt, then radishes are planted on her||Prunella Brown, Paraphernalia Grotto, Cormorant Broomrack|
|The Never-Want-To-Go-To-Bedders Cure||Bobby Gray, Larry Gray, Susan Gray||Doesn't want to go to bed||Allowed to stay up late until they are so tired that they begin to suffer insomnia and can't function during the day||Catherine Grassfeather, Wilfred Grassfeather, Worthington Gardenfield, Guinevere Gardenfield|
|The Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker Cure||Allen||slow eater||A special kit made of super small dishes serve him increasingly small portions until he lacks energy to function||Wetherill Crankminor, Pergola Wingsproggle|
|The Fighter-Quarrelers Cure||Anne Russell, Joan Russell (the author's own daughters were Anne & Joan, and their epic bickering is recorded in "Onions in the Stew").||bickering||Parents mimic the fighting of the children, demonstrating how unpleasant it is to those around them||Jasper Quitrick, Myrtle Quitrick|
|Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic|
|Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Magic||--||--||--||Marilyn Matson, Johnny Wilfred, Julie Ward, Johnny Green|
|The Thought-You-Saiders Cure||Darsie Burbank, Alison Burbank, Bard Burbank||deliberately misinterpreting others as a joke||Small powder makes hearing super-sensitive when sprinkled in the ear (example; makes turning on a light switch sound like a gunshot or a water faucet like Niagara Falls)||Terry Teagle, Theresa Teagle|
|The Tattletale Cure||Wendy Hamilton, Timmy Hamilton||tattling||Pills convert tattletales into puffs of smoke with tails||Marty Phillips|
|The Bad-Table-Manners Cure||Christopher Brown||Bad table manners||Lester the pig demonstrates beautiful table manners||Percy Penzil, Pamela Penzil, Potter Penzil|
|The Interrupters||Benji Franklin, Sally Franklin, Stevie Franklin||interrupting||Interrupter Powder takes away the voice of someone who interrupts||--|
|The Heedless Breaker||Sharon Rogers||carelessness and clumsiness||powder slows down bodily movement||--|
|The Never-Want-To-Go-To-Schooler||Jody Jones||Truancy||Ignorance Tonic induces stupidity, causing him to desire knowledge||Jan Jones, Julie Jones, Linda Jones, Armand Armadillo|
|The Waddle-I-Doers||Lee Wharton, Mimi Wharton||boredom||A treasure hunt||--; this story includes most of the children from the first two books|
|Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Farm|
|The Not Truthful Cure||Fetlock Harroway||lying||Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's animals ensure that there is no need to lie in order to impress||Wembley Rustad, Winifred Feathering, Williver Mallett|
|The Pet Forgetter Cure||Rebecca Rolfe||forgets to take care of pets||Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle "forgets" to feed her and locks her out of the farmhouse, so she knows how it feels||Cedric Bent-Smith, Eunice Hendricks|
|The Destructiveness Cure||Jeffie Phillips||takes things apart and can't reassemble them||Everything he takes apart brings him more work, prompting him to learn how to fix things||Billy Robinson, Donnie Harpoon, Wickie Rockstall, Electra Rockstall|
|The Fraidy-Cat Cure||Phoebe Jackstraw||irrational fear||an emergency helps her overcome her fear and find inner strength||Jeremy Jackstraw, Chuckie Jackstraw, Georgie Jackstraw, Imogene Haversack, Shirley Melancholy, Kathy Melancholy|
|The Can't Find It Cure||Morton Heatherwick||easily distracted||Shamed into focusing when his help is needed||Enterprise Beecham|
|Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle|
|The Show-Off Cure||Phillip Carmody||showing off||Show-off Powder makes him invisible when showing off||Connie Carmody, Bobby Westover, Billy Markle|
|The Crybaby Cure||Melody Foxglove||excessive crying||Crybaby Tonic makes her unable to stop her tears when crying||Cornell Foxglove, Harvard Foxglove, Emmy Foxglove, Trent Popsickle, Tansy Popsickle, Betsy Wilt|
|The Bully||Nicholas Semicolon||Cruelty to younger children and animals||Leadership Pills bring out leadership qualities (Bullybaths, which weaken the bather so they can be pushed around, are rejected in favor of the pills)||Roscoe Eager, Billy MacIntosh, Sylvia Crouch, Jimmy Gopher, Priscilla Wick, the Adams twins|
|The Whisperer||Evelyn Rover, Mary Crackle, Cornelia Whitehouse||gossipy whispering||Whisper Stick, a stick of magical candy, take away the voice||Karen Elroyd, Bobby Crackle, Billy Crackle, Corinthian Bop|
|The Slowpoke||Harbin Quadrangle||daydreaming||Special spray makes him extremely alert and focused||Sylvia Quadrangle, Janey Quadrangle, Annabell, Mona, Kathy, Georgie Wilcox|
|Happy Birthday, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle|
|The Just-One-More-TV-Show Cure||Kitten Hanover, Sean Hanover||Television addiction||aversion technique (forcing them to watch until they resist it)||Robin Waxbean, Lark Waxbean, Honor Hatchet, Honesty Hatchet, Henry Fence, Billy Ragweed|
|The Won't-Brush-Teeth Cure||Betsy Applebee||brushing her teeth is unimportant||Wag the dog demonstrates proper tooth brushing||Ellen, Rose Thorngate, Jasmine Thorngate, Jervil Thorngate Jr.|
|The Insult Cure||Blake Branson||cruelty to others||insults written on paper glow blindingly in the dark of his bedroom||Percival Goodwin, Prissy Goodwin, Candace Goodwin|
|The Picky-Eater Cure||Will Pemberton||picky eating||Crystals transform any food into white noodles; the effect being that he will want to try other things||Ariel Wingstaff, Finch Wingstaff|
|The Afraid-to-Try Cure||Jonathan Campbell||overly cautious||rescuing Lightfoot the cat from a tree helps him overcome his timidity||George O'Connor, Timmy O'Connor, Ricky Timbers, Woody Timbers|
|The Messy Stuff-and-Cram Cure||Katy McCloud||messiness||invisible paint around her room prevents her from moving until every area is neat||Prunella Peasley, Quinton Peasley|
|The Never-Finish Cure||Janie Beaumont||inability to complete one task before moving on to another||powder makes her unable to move to another task until she finishes the current one||Christie Anne McClanahan, Carrie Philpot, Larry Philpot|
|Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle's Birthday Party||--||--||--||Matt McGregor, Kevin McGregor; this story also includes children from all five books|
In other media
- There is a musical titled The Magic Mrs. Piggle Wiggle.
- In the 1990s, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle was made into a TV series, starring Jean Stapleton, of All in the Family fame.
Notes and references
- Conradt, Stacy (September 9, 2016). "Q&A: Ann M. Martin and Annie Parnell from the 'Missy Piggle-Wiggle' Series". Mental Floss. Retrieved October 10, 2016.