"Pigpen" Revisited: Dirtball Pete by Eileen Brennan
DIRTBALL PETE LOOKED LIKE SOMETHING THE CAT DRAGGED IN.
IT WAS A FACT.
Pete is one of those kids, like Charles Schulz's iconic "Pigpen," who seems to attract dirt and all things stinky like a magnet attracts iron filings. Mom is patient, but she draws the line when Pete tells her he's playing the part of the state of Pennsylvania onstage in the school play.
PETE'S MOM HAS REASON TO WORRY ABOUT THIS, BUT SHE ALSO HAD A PLAN.Pete emerges spotless and sweet-smelling for the moment, and Mom sees that he's perfectly groomed in creased slacks, a spotless shirt, and striped tie. Dressed to the nines, with his costume on and his memorized speech clutched in his hand for emergencies, the family sets forth for the big night. But what's that smell?
SHE BEGAN WHISTLING A LITTLE SONG TO THE RHYTHM SHE MADE WITH THE SCRUB BRUSH.
EVEN HIS DOG JACK WAS IMPRESSED.
"OH,, NO!" HIS MOTHER SAID. "PET FERRETS MUST STAY HOME!"
YOU'RE THE HANDSOMEST PENNSYLVANIA EVER!"
But once in the school parking lot, Pete's speech is swept away by the wind, and heedless of his garb and his coiffure, Pete chases after it--through the sprinkler, under the bushes, and---well, you can imagine how he looks when he finally retrieves the speech. Will Pennsylvania be a Dirtball Disaster?
Eileen Brennan's Dirtball Pete (Random House, 2011) is a cliff-hanging showbiz thriller as the heroically disheveled Dirtball Pete comes onstage to deliver an inspired poem to the perfections of Pennsylvania. Clever digital cartoons point up the poignant humor of this tale, which celebrates the heedless exuberance of small boys in rib-tickling style. As Publishers Weekly sums it up, "It’s tough to make a book sardonic and heartwarming at the same time, but Brennan nails it."