Vividly illustrated and suspensefully crafted, SOW BELLY AND THE STRANGER is a story both whimsical and serious, an adroit blend of mystery and adventure, with a festive variety of poignant, arresting and eccentric farm-yard characters.
SOW BELLY, an affable pig, is woken early one morning by BATTY THE BAT, who has been frightened by the sight of a mysterious stranger encountered in the orchard near the farm where they live. The stranger, Batty informs her, looks like a man but isn’t a man, and Sow Belly decides to investigate.
She seeks help from BASIL THE ROOSTER, but Basil is a narcissistic fop who spends most of his time staring at his reflection in a mirror, and he refuses to accompany her to the orchard. GRIZZLE, a disgruntled rat, also refuses to help; but he affirms that he encountered the stranger – who looks like a man yet isn’t a man – earlier that morning. When Sow Belly asks HERMA, a nervous hen, about the stranger Herma runs away frightened and alarmed.
Next, Sow Belly visits her husband, BOAR BELLY, at his office in the pig-sty where he edits The Daily Fodder, the farm newspaper. He pays little attention to his wife and even doubts that the stranger really exists. And finally, arrogantly he advises her to investigate the situation herself, alone, if she is so inclined.
Sow Belly next encounters DEBBIE THE DUCK, who has heard about the stranger and, eager for adventure, asks to accompany Sow Belly to the orchard on her formidable search. The two friends commence their intrepid journey and along the way come across GAYE, a friendly cow, and HERB THE WORM, both of whom agree to join the investigation, and the group anxiously proceeds across the meadow to the orchard where the stranger is supposed to be hiding.
They are frightened, in the orchard, when they observe a spooky pair of eyes watching them among the branches of an apple tree, and a peculiar furry hand – which also resembles an animal’s paw – soon appears. An unusual face, in which the features of a man and those of a beast are mingled, pokes out among the leaves. Sow Belly assures the creature that he is not in any danger and she encourages him to climb down from the tree and make friends with them.
The story continues as Sow Belly and her companions earnestly comfort this strange “creature”—who is lost—and they help their new friend to find a way back home. Additional characters include BRAINY HARE THE RABBIT; a bug named MR. FLYSPECK; and CLODHOPPER THE HORSE.
As uniquely winsome as it is instructive, SOW BELLY AND THE STRANGER will enchant, intrigue and entertain adults as well as children of many different ages, with equal delight.