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Piglettes | Clementine Beauvais | Review

Mireille, Astrid and Hakima have just been voted the three ugliest girls in school by their classmates on Facebook. But does that mean they're going to sit around crying about it?
Well... yes, a bit, but not for long!

Mireille is used to the Pig Pageant, organised by her classmate Malo every year. If anything, she's simply disappointed that this year she has only been voted the third ugliest girl in school, instead of getting her usual first place. Astrid and Hakima however, are both new to the school and to the pageant and not finding it so easy to accept their titles. When Mireille meets her fellow winners and the local newspaper reports on the Pig Pageant without speaking to any of them, Mireille begins to hatch a plan that will bring the focus very sharply back to the three piglettes.

A garden party being held by the French President gives the girls a common goal. For Mireille it will be a chance to meet her father, for Hakima a chance to make right the injustice done to her brother, Kader, in the French army that meant the loss of his legs, and for Astrid simply a chance to meet her favourite band of all time. For all of them it is a chance to show that there are more important things in life than being voted the most ugly girl at school. So, accompanied by Kader, the girls set off to cycle to Paris, crash a garden party, and sell sausages out of an old trailer to pay their way.

Piglettes is a charming and hilarious book that deals with a pretty serious issue. Bullying has always been a problem in schools, of course, but now with the anonymity and immediacy of the internet, it's easier than ever for those bullies to hit their mark and, as the headteacher at Mireille's school points out, it's very difficult for schools to deal with bullying that takes place online.

Mireille, however, has the perfect way of dealing with her tormentors. She just doesn't see them that way. Mireille has a wicked sense of humour that at times genuinely made me laugh out loud, and even she admits that it's a coping mechanism. She tries to teach the other girls that this is how they must deal with Malo and the others too, that they have to just laugh and make jokes and not let it get to them because it really doesn't mean anything. Hakima understands this, at least. When Mireille and Astrid meet her for the first time, she is the one who tells them there are more important things in the world, like the fact that the general who sent Kader into the mission where he was injured, is about to be awarded the Legion of Honour.

So when they come up with their plan to cycle to Paris and sell sausages along the way, it really isn't about revenge, although that's what Malo assumes. It isn't about him or the pageant. It isn't really even about the fact that now, far from ignoring the three girls, the local paper is desperate to cover every leg of their journey. It's about these three girls becoming friends, having an adventure, helping each other to achieve their goals, and learning to really, truly, not care if other people think they're ugly. This is an uplifting story, guaranteed to make you giggle.

Beauvais handles the issues in this book with a light hand and an excellent sense of humour and I would definitely recommend it to all teenage girls and anyone else who wants a truly fun and funny read about friendship, growing up, and selling sausages in the French countryside.

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