The Piggle
by K. Shams, M.D.
Trent's Prints & Publishing

"Before long the Eagle heard some sounds coming from a nearby meadow. Looking down carefully, the eagle saw a Pig playing carefree in the meadow."

What do you get when you cross a pig with an eagle? Why, you get a Piggle, of course. Shams' highly original and imaginative tale chronicles the life of a one-of-a-kind creature whose very existence serves as a lesson on understanding and appreciating the differences in others.

The tale of the Piggle begins with a group of children in the city of Everywhere waking up the resident storyteller and begging him to tell them a story they have never heard before. After some thought, he decides to tell them a tale he has also never told before, but only on the condition that they not repeat it. His story begins with the Eagle, a proud bird who lived 9,999 years ago. On a sunny day in October, it was on a flight to eternity, a quest for completeness and perfection that would eventually culminate in the bird turning to ashes as it drew closer to the sun. While on a break one day from its arduous journey, the Eagle discovered its opposite, the Pig, whose sole pursuit seemed to be to play happily in the meadow. Despite or perhaps because of their vast differences, the Eagle and the Pig became close friends, spending years together until one day, when the Eagle had finally made up its mind to continue its journey, the two were suddenly transformed into one creature, the Piggle.

Dr. Shams, a neuropsychiatrist from Florida, who also enjoys writing books for children, blends myth and didacticism in his compact tale of an animal comprised of diametric opposites. Drawing from the theory of archetypes in psychology, Shams' Eagle appears to embody ambition, higher thinking, and spirituality. The Pig, in contrast, is only concerned with pleasure, the things of the moment, and lacks both ambition and imagination. It is perfectly content to live off the altruistic tendencies of the Eagle who shares what it has hunted daily with its hedonistic, porcine companion. When the forces of nature somehow combine the two unlikely friends into a strange, pushmi-pullyu being that could have come straight out of a Doctor Dolittle story, the impossibility of the two personalities to ever have a true meeting of the minds becomes painfully clear. Although the creatures share a stomach and heart, those are the only things their two natures have in common. The author does end his tale on a positive note, however. Despite the fact that the Piggle roasts in the sun and turns to ash because its opposite halves cannot even come to terms long enough to find some shade on a scorching hot day, from its remains grow two trees that bear very different fruits. The people of Everywhere learn to make a potion from blending the fruits together that helps them appreciate and cherish the differences in others.

The story is entertaining and teaches a valuable lesson. Shams takes his instructional role one step further by putting specific vocabulary words in bold throughout the text and then providing a glossary of the terms at the end for his young readers. While reminiscent of the works of Stephen Cosgrove in its use of fantastical creatures and strong moral overtones, Shams' tale of a sympathetic but ill-fated hybrid is a unique entry into the world of children's literature.

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