Before his big success with “Rascal,” Sterling North wrote shorter books for young readers, at least two with excellent illustrations by Kurt Wiese, already a favorite of mine as the illustrator of the Freddy the Pig series by Walter R. Brooks. The color technique used is different and appealing, I think Weiss prepared each color plate in black ink and added texture with grease pencil. There are pictures on most pages, some in color, some black and white.
Zeke lives on a farm with his parents, and in addition to growing corn, they raise some pigs. As the book opens, a new litter has been born, twelve normal-size piglets and a smaller runt, which Zeke begs to have as his own pet. He names the slippery piglet Greased Lighting. Zeke’s pig soon proves a wizard at escaping from the pen and getting into trouble: eating plants in the garden, and running away into the deep woods, where Zeke has to find and rescue him. Finally Zeke’s dad has had enough, and takes the pig to town to sell in the big Fourth of July weekend gathering. Zeke secretly follows his father into town on his pony to see what happens to his friend. Greased Lightning ends up being purchased by the town for their greased pig event on the fourth, and Zeke is determined to catch him, because whoever catches the greased pig can keep him. It’s the only chance he has to get his pig back.
Great fun, charming story and illustrations.