A Big Pig and a Small Press

Kristina’s Bookshelf

In the world of book publishing, small presses provide a valuable alternative to large corporate publishing houses. With less overhead, small presses can introduce and take chances on new authors and publish smaller runs on books that may not, at least at first, have a large audience or generate a lot of revenue. Rather than focus on big bestsellers, they can publish shorter books that experiment with form and offer content that might be viewed risky by larger publishing houses. Edible East Bay has reviewed many books from small local presses like Parallax Press, Ulysses Press, and Counterpoint Press, in part because their focus on niche topics and individuals often lines up with the magazine’s focus on hyper-local, seasonal food and the people who
produce it.

Spring the Rescue Pig
By Leslie Crawford
(Stone Pier Press, 2018)

Sprig the Rescue Pig is the first book published by Stone Pier Press (SPP), a new San Francisco–based nonprofit small press focusing on environmental books and food systems. The press is partnered with Chelsea Green Publishing, a publisher in Vermont that will distribute books produced by SPP.

Sprig, intended for children ages 4 to 7, is the first in a series on farm animals. Clare Ellis, publisher and founder of SPP says, “We wanted to convince people that a book about humane, climate-friendly ways to grow and eat food can actually make for good reading. A beautifully illustrated children’s book seemed like a good start. Sprig’s lively intelligence, sensitivity, and curiosity isn’t an exaggeration. Pigs are so appealing they’re considered by many to be ambassadors of the farm animal world.”

Author Leslie Crawford with feathered companion Alice B. Toklas.

Charmingly illustrated by Sonja Stangl, Sprig is the story of a pig herded on to a truck with lots of other pigs (presumably bound for slaughter, adult readers will assume) that escapes into surrounding woods and is discovered and adopted by a young girl and her family. Eventually they figure out it’s not practical for them to care for the animal, and they send the pig to an animal sanctuary. Crawford describes how happy the pig appears to be when roaming free in the woods, eating acorns.

“Sprig effectively takes a stand against factory farming, which is deeply cruel to animals and does tremendous damage to the environment and climate. Many people who learn about where meat and dairy come from—an estimated 99{94d79dd6af1e87a94e700e4c297236468333f22e27ed5757b44711974a9a4b91} of what we eat is raised on factory farms—look for more humane alternatives,” says Ellis.

Inspired by true events, the book includes a bonus section called “More About Pigs,” where readers learn that pigs are smart enough to play video games, enjoy sleeping in cozy pig piles, and run really fast.

Ellis says that the press will be introducing Gwen the Rescue Hen, also by Leslie Crawford, in September. “We’re developing a series of Growing Good Food Guides,” she adds. “One, called Growing Good Food: A citizen’s guide to backyard carbon farming, will include letters from a few Bay Area–based farmers, environmentalists, and thought leaders in the world of regenerative agriculture on gardening as a political act.”

Edible East Bay’s book editor Kristina Sepetys is eager to share her ideas and book recommendations with
our readers.