Don't let the movie overshadow the book on which it was based. Hogget wins Babe by guessing his weight at the fair. When Babe, the piglet arrives at Farmer Hogget's farm he doesn't know that Mrs. Hogget has him in mind for a bacon breakfast and a pork chop dinner. Not knowing what else to do with Babe, Hogget puts him with Fly, his champion sheepherder, who has a new litter of pups. Fly adopts Babe willingly and, not knowing what else to do with a young one, she teaches him to herd sheep along with her other pups. Fly and the other dogs rule the sheep with fear, convinced that they are stupid, mindless creatures who only respond to this treatment. Babe is a quick learner but, by communicating with the sheep, she finds that they will respond better with more civilized treatment. Luckily, the Hogget's soon see that Babe is no ordinary pig -- he communicates very well and in a most gallant manner with the sheep he is so adept at herding. Since dog trials in which dogs and their owners compete in sheepherding are popular there, Babe's skills are soon put to the test. After foiling sheep rustlers and wild dogs, and coming under suspicion himself, Babe wins the respect of Farmer Hogget and even Mrs. Hogget. When he wins the sheep trials, his victory is complete.
The point of catching more flies with honey than with vinegar will not be missed by most readers and they might like to discuss ways in which they have seen this to be true. Comparisons between Babe and Wilbur from Charlotte's Web are inevitable and make for an interesting discussion. Since the movie "Babe" is available on video, students might like to make a point by point comparison between the book and the movie after which they can try to determine why the changes were made and whether or not they helped or hurt the story.
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In Times Past
by Carol Hurst and Rebecca Otis
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