The Happy Hollistons series is truly one of the most remarkable literary achievements of the Berglundic Renaissance we currently enjoy under His Imperial Highness, Zeapold III. With 417 volumes in the main series (and more appearing at the rate of two a month), not to mention the subsidiary series, it is certainly the most extensive work of belles lettres ever produced about pigs.
Under the able direction of The Happy Hollistons Marketing Corporation, oInc., it is also the most lucrative children's series of all time (the contributions of the author, the divine Miss Q., are also not without merit). Indeed, it may well be said that at this point children's literature is The Happy Hollistons. (On a recent trip to a Burglobooks outlet, it was found that, in addition to 569 Happy Hollistons books, there were only six other books for piglets: The House at Paul Comer, Lisa in Wonderland, Keith and the Baseball Team From Mars, Justine and the Giant Nectarine, Tracy and the Chocolate Factory, and Delbert and the Magic Telephone).
While one might be tempted to start with the first book, #1, The Happy Hollistons, this would not be a wise move, as the first 26 volumes are decidedly atypical of the bulk of the oeuvre. The fact that it took the divine Miss Q. an average of nearly three months to complete each volume should be warning enough of the difference. These early works, while not without interest, should be left until after the later ones have been read at least twice each. It is especially interesting to note the prominence of Keith in the early books, given how boring he is in later books.
So, then, we begin our study with #27, The Happy Hollistons Move to Vrglnt, in which the Happy Hollistons move to their familiar address of 360 South Furutani Avenue in South-Southeast Vrglnt; this would remain their headquarters except for two brief intervals (from #67, The Happy Hollistons Declare Bankruptcy to #72, The Happy Hollistons and the Magic Toaster, and from #123, The Happy Hollistons Get Deported to #167, The Happy Hollistons Save the Empire). However, this should not be interpreted as meaning that the Happy Hollistons are stick-in-the-muds!
In fact, in more than 90% of all Happy Hollistons books (394 of 435), a journey of some sort is made as a major part of the plot. Indeed, in many of the books, it is the plot: journeys as short as half a block (in #273, The Happy Hollistons Visit the Vrglnt Museum of Architecture, which, at 355 South Furutani actually covers the mythical site of the Holliston homestead) and as far as Quasar ∞′′′ the farthest known object at the time, (in #47, The Happy Hollistons Thru Space and Time) have been made by these adventurous pigs.
Such stories can be divided into three categories: contemporary stories, wherein a real place is visited, and is usually described with some factual basis; historic stories, where a the action takes place mostly in the past, but in a real place; and fantastic stories, where the action occurs in a place that doesn't exist, or a real location that has been distorted beyond recognition.
Contemporary stories are often sponsored by the location being visited, which doesn't do mush for the impartiality of the narrative, but does insure that the Happy Hollistons have a good time; the most blatant such story is #234, The Happy Hollistons Visit Happy Hollistonsland, which reads like a press-release (since it is). Other books of this nature include #117, The Happy Hollistons Visit Safeway World Headquarters in Seattle and #442, The Happy Hollistons And The Berglundic Way, which is set on Cape Cod (in Berglundic North America). A notable exception to the friendliness of the books toward the location being visited is #219, The Happy Hollistons Visit the Hotel Paul, which was written after a rather unpleasant stay by the divine Miss Q. at the Hotel Paul, in Baconberg.
Fantastic stories, such as #399, The Happy Hollistons And the Ravenous Bug-Blatter Beast of Traal, tend to be more unpleasant, especially that one. #254, The Happy Hollistons Get Eaten For Lunch is also pretty bad, although eggplant fans will enjoy it. The least scary book of this sort is probably #119, The Happy Hollistons And the Destiny of the Daleggs, but that's not saying much.
Historical stories can in turn be divided into those involving the Time Machine invented by Dr. Leginsalmon in #45, The Happy Hollistons and the Time Machine, which tend to be patriotic in nature (even if this means a slight distortion of the facts, as in #243, The Happy Hollistons and the Noble Berglunds), and those which feature stories of the Happy Hollistons's ancestors, usually told by Father Holliston. These families tend to be very similar to the modern version, although #194, The Happy Hollistons and the Necessity of Keith is an exception (as well as being one of the best such books); it features a series of three-child Holliston families who meet with disaster because they lack a Keith-analog.
Another common theme in the Happy Hollistons cannon is that of a fantastic or marvelous gadget. For instance, in #105, The Happy Hollistons and the Amazing Lightbulb, Freddy and Suzie Holliston find a light bulb with the power to 'zap' them anywhere they like. When Sally gets possession of the light bulb, the consequences of her irresponsibility are hilarious. Closely related to the gadget stories are the knowledge stories, in which one or more Hollistons learn some new technique and cause havoc. The best of these is #221, The Happy Hollistons Go Quantity Surveying, which features a guest appearance by Ethyl the Aardvark. This is the only authorized appearance of a non-Holliston character appearing in the Happy Hollistons books, but there are several thinly disguised parodies, most notably #398, The Happy Hollistons Meet Grunt Avocadopold and it's sequel, #403, The Happy Hollistons Meet Cathy Boatt.
Another typical Holliston story involves the adoption by some or all of the Happy Hollistons of some new religious or political viewpoint. Usually good-natured fun is poked at the worldview espoused by the various family members. Typical of these is #390, The Happy Hollistons and the Royalist Factions, wherein each Holliston takes up the cause of one of the pretenders to the Berglundic throne. Eventually a visit from His Imperial Augustness, Zeapold III, brings the pigs back to sanity.
Genre fiction is not without its representatives in the Happy Hollistons series. There are several sports stories, usually involving the Happy Hollistons winning an important trophy, such as #111, The Happy Hollistons Win the FILFI Tiddly-Winks Challenge; in addition, in #62, The Happy Hollistons and Father Holliston In Winter, Father Holliston takes up skiing and wins a giant slalom race. There are several romances, mostly awful, and mostly involving Keith, and several westerns, mostly featuring Suzie, Sally and horses.
And then there are the mysteries: English arm-chair detective mysteries such as #78, The Happy Hollistons Consulting Detective Agency; hard-boiled detective stories like #104, The Happy Hollistons and the Maltese Toaster; and police procedurals like #177, The Happy Hollistons Call Everyone on Urth Named Egbert.
In addition, there are the separate series starring each member of the Holliston family; the most recent volumes are #F165, Freddy Holliston Does Real Well In School, #K42, Keith Holliston and More Jam Than You Can Eat In A Week, #S53, Sally Holliston and the Dalegg Invasion of Bergland, #Z54, Suzie Holliston and the the Great Toast Warriors Fan Club Debate, #P25, Father Holliston and the Dog Days Sale, and #M41, Mother Holliston and the Anarchists Club Picnic Days Sale Crisis. Basically, these books are similar to the main series, but with a bit more emphasis on the title character. Since these books started coming out, just after #277, The Happy Hollistons and the Pickle Gun, the main series has tended to have a fairly constant division of limelight: 30% for Freddy, 15% for each of the other kids and for Mother Holliston, and the remaining 10% for Father Holliston.
In addition, there are the Happy Hollistons Self-Help Series, like #Q12, The Happy Hollistons Teach YOU How to Make Better Toast; the picture book series; and the Interior Design series, like #056, The Happy Hollistons and the Great Philosophers, which look great on your shelves but have blank interior pages. However, these (and the other Happy Hollistons series) are beyond the scope of this article because I've gotten bored typing it.
Back to: Happy Hollistons Index Page, or Mark Purtill's Silly Home Page.
Copyright © 1991 Mark Purtill, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: Sat Dec 22, 2007 by Mark Purtill