Local author tells tale of a pig's ride in a hatchback

Nov. 15—CANTON — It wasn't long after Jean Williams-Bergen heard the incredible story of the transportation of Melvin the pig to his new home that the subject of a book came up.

Melvin came to live in St. Lawrence County as a pet after Ms. Williams-Bergen's daughter Eden and her best friend Dharma Crabtree conspired to convince their parents to let them have a pet pig.

Rainbow Crabtree, Dharma's mom, was the pig's chauffeur that day and shared the crazy story as soon as she got back from the harrowing trip.

"We thought this could be a children's book," Ms. Williams-Bergen said.

"Hog in a Hatchback," which has just recently reached local bookshelves, is written and illustrated by Ms. Williams-Bergen.

Producing a book was a learning experience for her.

She had never written a book before and never illustrated a book before. To add to the challenge, the book is written in rhyme and the illustrations were drawn electronically on an iPad, both things that she had to learn how to do.

Writing in rhyme, she said, was a particular challenge and she relied on help and advice from more experienced friends.

A rhyming book is not like a song, Ms. Williams-Bergen said. A rhyming book has to sound good and be intuitively read by the least skilled out-loud reader.

The book took about two years to write, she said.

The story is billed as nearly 100% true and Ms. Williams-Bergen speaks about Melvin with obvious admiration.

"He is a very dramatic guy," she said.

Ms. Williams-Bergen self-published the book through FriesenPress, a Canadian publisher that provides extensive one-on-one help for authors.

Ms. Williams-Bergen has gotten advice from editors and book designers from FriesenPress. The publishers also gave her a deadline, which helped her focus over the last few months of the two-year period in which she worked on the book.

"I mapped it out and told my husband the house would be a mess," she said.

The story includes an escape and chase and the very smelly biological results of having a pig in a small enclosed place.

Melvin, Ms. Williams-Bergen said, was right at home once he arrived and instantly became the mayor of the other animals they keep.

"He bosses the other animals around," she said.

Time has passed since the adventure and the girls have grown up. Melvin is still enjoying his life in St. Lawrence County.

"I do love having him around," she said.

The book is available locally in Canton at Nature's Storehouse, Brewer Bookstore and the TAUNY Folkstore. It is available in Potsdam at the North Country Children's Museum and SLC Arts. The book can be ordered online from the author at hoginahatchback.org.