Author Jodi Kendall – Interview & Book Giveaway

I recently had the opportunity to chat with author Jodi Kendall about her debut middle-grade novel, The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, which releases on October 3rd. Read on for a glimpse into the inspiration for Jodi’s story . . . and for a chance to win a signed copy!

The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the CityT. P.: Thanks, Jodi, for stopping by MUF to chat about The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City. Our interview is quite fitting for two reasons. First, I live in the city. And second, my daughter is convinced she wants a pet pig. I let her scoop the cat’s litter box instead.

Anyway, since I haven’t seen many pigs in the city, I’ve got to know—where did you get the inspiration for your city-dwelling porcine pal?

JODI: I grew up in a big city in the Midwest. When I was thirteen years old, my college-aged brother showed up one holiday season with a surprise piglet in his arms! He had saved a runt from certain death at a nearby farm. Her name was Ellie, and she was a typical farm breed that grew big and fast. Ellie lived inside our house for six months. As you might imagine, we had quite our share of pig adventures! While the main plot of The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City is loosely inspired by this childhood experience, the book is a work of fiction.

T. P.: Wow! That brings to mind two different questions. First of all, exactly how big did Ellie the pig get during her 6 months in your house?

JODI: I had to call my dad to answer this one! He thinks Ellie was about 180 pounds when she finally moved out. Here are a few pictures.

Author Jodi Kendall with Ellie

This is thirteen-year-old me bathing her, and another one when she had grown really big… From the snow out front, I’m guessing it was maybe a month or two before she left our family in April. (I remember because it was my Mom’s 50th birthday and, while us kids all loved Ellie, Mom said that her leaving our house was the best present she ever got!) We had this small room attached to our kitchen – we called it the dinette – where Ellie stayed when we were at school. But when we were home, we let her out, and she roamed our house and explored around the yard, too.

Ellie the Pig

T. P.: As for the second question your real-life-pig-in-the-city experience brings to mind, what’s one event in your novel that was inspired by something that actually happened with Ellie?

JODI: There’s a scene when Hamlet the pig bullies her way into the kitchen, figures out how to open the fridge with her snout, makes a huge mess on the floor, and the main character’s little sister, Amelia, is standing on the kitchen countertop swatting at the hefty pig’s rump with a fly swatter trying to get her to back away. That’s a true story! Pigs are highly intelligent animals and motivated by food. Our pet pig, Ellie, also bit into aluminum cans with her teeth to make it spray soda everywhere (she liked the taste). Ellie learned how to open lower cabinet doors, and she knew there was food inside cans. While she couldn’t open soup cans with her teeth, she did peel off the labels. At one point we had 2-3 dozen cans of unknown content because she tore off all the labeling!

T. P.: It looks like 180 pounds worth of pet pig provided plenty of inspiration! Now let’s go to the flipside of real-life inspiration. What’s a favorite pig-focused scene or event in your story that sprang completely from your imagination?

JODI: There’s a scene in which Hamlet the pig escapes the family’s tiny city townhouse backyard by jumping over the fence into the neighbor’s adjacent property – and this is a very ornery neighbor who is NOT a fan of chaos, noise, or the Shilling family. It was a fun action scene to write (that leads to some consequences and character growth, too).


T. P.: Speaking of characters. . . . As the author, I’m sure you love Josie (the story’s protagonist) and Hamlet the pig; otherwise, you’d never have told their story! Aside from them, who’s your favorite character in the story? What makes that character stand out to you?

JODI: Hands-down, Josie’s college-aged brother – the oldest of the five Shilling kids – Tom. He’s hilarious, confident, and always breaks the tension in the family with a good one-liner. His character was a blast to write!


T. P.: Speaking of writing. . . . What’s next for you? Do you have another project in the works?

JODI: I just finished up the sequel to The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, which is very exciting. It will publish in Fall 2018. We’ve been secretive about the content, title, and cover art, so interested readers will just have to wait and hear the news. 🙂 But I’m currently working on a new book proposal, a third book that’s unrelated to my first two middle grade novels. And you can bet that there’s an animal adventure involved!

T. P.: A hush-hush sequel??? I can’t believe you’re going to keep us in suspense like this, Jodi! Regardless, I sure do appreciate you taking the time to come visit us here at the Mixed-Up Files. Now, as we anxiously await details about your next novel, I suppose we could offer our readers a chance to win a copy of your current one. . . .

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Want a chance to win a SIGNED copy of The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City by Jodi Kendall plus some bonus swag? Entry is easy. Just comment below by answering one simple question:

If YOU could live in a city with any farm animal, what animal would it be?

You can also earn BONUS entries by sharing this post on Facebook, Tweeting about the giveaway, visiting Jodi’s website, signing up for Jodi’s author e-newsletter, and/or following her on Instagram. Entries will be accepted through the day of the novel’s official release—Tuesday, October 3rd.

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Children's author Jodi KendallTo learn more about Jodi Kendall and her writing, visit You can even download free bonus resources for The Unlikely Story of a Pig in the City, including an in-depth Classroom Curriculum Guide.


T. P. Jagger on PinterestT. P. Jagger on Youtube
T. P. Jagger
Along with his MUF posts, T. P. Jagger can be found at, where he provides brief how-to writing-tip videos as The 3-Minute Writing Teacher plus original, free readers’ theater scripts for middle-grade classrooms. For T. P.’s 10-lesson, video-based creative writing course, check him out on
  1. I already thought this book sounded terrific, but to find out it’s based to some degree on true events… how cool is that?! I live in the country, but even in the city I’d definitely want my chickens with me (as long as they stayed outside– chickens are pretty messy)! I’ve just gotten used to fresh eggs and couldn’t go back!

  2. I would have a goat miniature donkey or a goat. I have many friends that actually have hobby farms and I love going to visit when the baby goats are born! They are adorable and have so much personality. A pig would be amazing as well as sister loves pigs and are her absolute favorite animals. She hopes to have one in the future. In our house pigs are friends not food! ??

  3. Hmmm, I’m not a city girl, but I think I’d like to have some chickens! The little ones are so cute (I remember we hatched some in second grade!). Can’t wait to read your new book, too.

  4. Hi. Sounds like a great book. I think maybe a duck would be nice to have in a city. You could take walks in the rain together.

  5. I loved this idea for a story…I think I would like to have a miniature donkey. I’ve seen pictures of these adorable animals and I think you could really keep one at home…at least in the back yard. thank you for sharing your beautiful story with the world!

  6. Sounds like a sweet story. I would want to have a roster to be with in the city. I think it would make a great alarm and friend.?

  7. This seems like a fun and sweet story.

  8. A horse. In Seattle, I have a pretty big -for-the-city lot and with how bad our traffic is, it would be a lovely way to commute.

    • Brooke,
      A horse would definitely be an attention-getting commuting mode in crowded Seattle traffic. My daughter would probably want a ride. While carrying a pig.
      -T. P.

  9. I have been looking forward to reading this book ever since the advance press started, months ago! So happy it is finally out! Congratulations to Jodi Kendall!

  10. Will look for this book, Jodi. Love the way you incorporated your own experiences. I’m sharing.

  11. This sounds like such a fun book. I can’t wait to read it.

  12. The cover art is unbelievable charming. I’m sure the real-life story is fascinating!

  13. What a unique concept…thanks for sharing!

  14. Sounds like a wonderful story. Good luck! I’m sharing ?

  15. This book sounds like all kinds of awesome 🙂 To answer the questions, I’d have a city chicken! I have four country chickens right now. Second choice would be a goat.

    • Jessica,
      I’m with you on the city-chicken idea. No more worrying about whether there are eggs in the fridge! 🙂
      -T. P.