Creator / Dick King-Smith
Dick King-Smith (1922 – 2011) was a prolific English author of children's books, mostly about animals. His single most famous book is The Sheep-Pig
(published in the US as Babe: the Gallant Pig
), which was the basis of the film Babe
Another of his books was the basis of the film The Water Horse
. Harry's Mad
was the basis for a live action TV series, as was The Queen's Nose
(one of his few books not
about animals) and The Foxbusters
had an animated adaptation
He also wrote a sequel to The Sheep-Pig
, which was not
the basis of the sequel to Babe
tells of Babe's great-grandson Ace — so named because he has a spot on his side that resembles the Ace of Clubs — who has the curious and unique ability to perfectly understand human language. None of the characters from the original book appear, though Babe and the Hoggetts are mentioned a few times.
His works provide examples of:
- Animal Athlete Loophole: In The Sheep-Pig, there Ain't No Rule that says a pig can't compete in a sheepherding dog trial!
- Animal Jingoism: Principally between sheep and sheepdogs in The Sheep-Pig.
- Animal Talk: In many Dick King-Smith books, animals of different species can speak to each other (but usually not to humans). The Sheep-Pig is an obvious example. The Foxbusters, in which hens, foxes and rodents each speak distinct languages, is an exception.
- Audience Murmurs: In Sophie Hits Six, Sophie gets into big trouble with her teacher when she follows her dad's advice and plays her crowd scene by shouting, "Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb!"
- Cats Are Mean:
- Ultimately subverted in Ace, where Clarence the cat is, at worst, a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, and is quick to befriend the titular pig.
- Also averted in Find the White Horse, where Squintum the cat leads a group of two dogs and a pigeon to find the original home of his first canine companion (he briefly contemplated eating the pigeon as she seemed useless, but quickly came to appreciate her as a friend).
- Cunning Like a Fox: Foxes are occasionally portrayed as cunning, with The Foxbusters as an example. But this is decidedly secondary to their main characteristic of being vile Nazi stand-ins. (Unlike many authors who write about foxes, Dick King-Smith was a farmer.)
- Cute, but Cacophonic: The Guard Dog
- Disability Superpower: Daggie Dogfoot in Pigs Might Fly has a plausible, pig-specific one — his malformed front feet resemble paws, enabling him to swim without the risk of basically cutting his own throat with sharp trotters. Later, as the title suggests, he "flies"; he is being carried back to his farm underneath a helicopter and it looks to the other animals as though he is actually flying for the machine.
- Dumb Dodo Bird: Dodos are Forever is about a family of dodos who are smart enough- with the aid of a marooned parrot- to see the writing on the wall and attempt to escape their impending extinction.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome: Fweddy from Harry's Mad.
- Have a Gay Old Time: It's certainly not his fault, but nowadays his name looks like a parody of a forum troll's handle.
- The term "bitch" is used a quite a bit in The Sheep-Pig—not as an insult or general swear word, but with its literal sense of a female dog.
- Heroic Albino: In The School Mouse, the mouse protagonist crosses paths with an albino mouse. Initially she is terrified by him, believing him to be the ghost of her dead brother, but he actually turns out to be quite nice.
- The Highwayman: The Toby Man.
- His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Farmer Farmer in The Fox Busters.
- Interspecies Adoption:
- The Sheep-Pig, in which a piglet is raised by a sheep-dog.
- Dragon Boy, in which an orphaned boy is taken in by a pair of dragons, uses the trope in a more fantastic way.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: In Ace the titular pig and his owner go on "That's The Way It Goes, with Hester Jantzen", a parody of the real-life programme That's Life hosted by Esther Rantzen.
- Once for Yes, Twice for No: Ace is about a pig named Ace who has the unique natural talent of understanding everything humans say, and works out a way of communicating with farmer Ted Tubbs by grunting once for "no" and twice for "yes." He briefly ponders expanding on it by devising specific meanings for three grunts, four grunts and so on, but ultimately decides this will get too complicated for them both.
- Polly Wants a Microphone: Madison the African Grey Parrot in Harry's Mad.
- Recycled In Space: The Fox Busters is The Dambusters but with animals.
- Stock Animal Diet: In Magnus Powermouse the pest control officer baits his trap with a chunk of Mars bar, and the narration notes that the stereotype of mice preferring cheese is wrong.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: In Smasher, the eponymous puppy asks whether his father was like this. His mother says yes, and that Smasher is going to be just like him. However Smasher is actually really ugly and described as looking like the offspring of the Hound of the Baskervilles.
- Theme Naming: Madison the parrot from Harry's Mad was so called because he was his original (American) owner's fourth parrot. "Washington died in his sleep, Adams caught pneumonia and Jefferson tangled with the cat."
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: The scruffy aspiring farmer protagonist of the Sophie books, compared with her pigtailed archnemesis Dawn.
- The Tooth Hurts: This plays a part in The Stray, since the main character has a fear of dentists but starts developing tooth pains partway through the book.
- Xenofiction: Sometimes his work falls into this, but it depends very much on the individual setting.
- Your Tomcat Is Pregnant:
- Fweddy the parrot in Harry's Mad.
- Tom (later renamed Tomboy) the cat from the Sophie series.
- Ugly Cute: Smasher is described as being incredibly ugly but the fact that the farmer finds him cute is the reason that he manages to avoid being sold and punished several times.