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The Boy Who Kicked Pigs

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  1,113 ratings  ·  146 reviews
'Grotesque and depraved and above all very funny.' Ardal O'Hanlon

Robert Caligari is a thoroughly evil thirteen-year-old who gets his kicks from kicking pigs. Afer a humiliating episode with a bacon butty, Robert realizes just how much he loathes the human race - and his revenge is truly terrible.
This subversive horror-fantasy from Tom Baker (ex-monk, ex-sailor, and the ul
Paperback, 124 pages
Published October 20th 2005 by Faber & Faber (first published November 1999)
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Average rating 3.55  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,113 ratings  ·  146 reviews

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Aug 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves Roald Dahl's children's books.
I picked this book up a dozen times but never bought it. Thank God for Christmas and daughters. It's a grusome little work, a wonderful diversion. If this was all Tom Baker was remembered for then that wouldn't be a bad thing at all. ...more
Nathan Johnson
Oct 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Everything required to make a good book is here.
Indeed, even most people giving low ratings agree that the narrative is excellent. Where most people find fault is in how very graphics and disturbing some of the imagery is.
I would agree that midway through the book it goes down a very dark path. This is no light hearted satirical romp about a "naughty" boy. This is a story about a very demented child and where his devious actions lead him.

I am on the fence about whether or not this is truly a chi
Sophie Crane
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
I absolutely love this book. Tom Baker's dark wit is well illustrated here and I thought it had a spiky feel to it. I bought the paperback after reading the first page and of Robert going to die. June the 13th, a 13 year old teen and he's about to expire! Tom has this knack of oozing a morbid sense into the story and of which is as dark as Tim Burton's works. I also loved the illustrations by David Roberts and these added a perfect mood to the overall nightmare. I just wish Tom would write a few ...more
Mar 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I listened to the audiobook version of this very dark and twisted tale, which Tom Baker narrates himself with gruesome relish. Being of the age to fondly remember Baker's post-Doctor Who stints on British children's television with The Book Tower and Jackanory meant that any semblance of objectivity flew out of the window as soon as he began reading.

To summarise: I thoroughly enjoyed this.

The story itself would have been a solid four stars, but I do feel that Baker's narration of the audiobook e
John Naylor
Jan 12, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a dark story. In the vein (pun acknowledged but not fully intentional) of Roald Dahl's darker stories. It is also written by the 4th Doctor (Who) so I get to put quotes from that series in my review.

Despite it being a short story (illustrations take up half the page length), I still felt that certain parts of it dragged a little. It has gore, deaths and scenes that are horrific in a dark humoured way. Because of this I would recommend it to teenagers and above. After all... There's no p
While waiting for my train I was browsing through the bookstore and picked up this little book and sat down on their comfortable armchairs to read a few pages and didn’t get up until I finished it all (luckily still making it on time for my train).

The cover of the book would indicate children’s book, although it’s far from it. The book can only be described as unsettling and grotesque, where things escalate pretty quickly into a gory tale. I also think the illustrations really do bring the char
Owen Townend
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is my second book by Tom Baker and I'm shocked at the darkness of the man's creative process. The title is a bit of a misnomer but young Robert Caligari really is a nasty piece of work. Fortunately his animal abuse is relatively short-lived and he soon turns his sadism onto siblings and neighbourhood characters. By the end of the book, Caligari has built up quite the body count and his punishment is reminiscent of Prometheus and Loki.

Don't let Roberts' first few charming illustrations decei
Dec 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
The story itself was okay, although it did get pushed a bit too far in my opinion -- especially for a children's book, if it can really be regarded as such. Some of the jokes in it were okay too, for people who enjoy this kind of humor at least. Personally, I found a great number of them to be plain annoying or even kind of silly. All in all, an almost pleasant read, in large part due to the very interesting illustrations that accompany the story. ...more
Kenton Hall
Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My only requirement for any book I truly love is that only its author could have written it.

This is the epitome of that scoring system.

The only thing funnier than the book is the shocked reactions it often garners.
J.E. Remy
Oct 08, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Tom Baker's autobiography was probably the most honestly introspective, intriguing, and amusing autobiography I've ever read. This short work of fiction is just as fantastic. The Boy Who Kicked Pigs is the story of a friendly, young sociopath, and it's an amazing dive into the grotesque. You can almost hear Baker's voice narrating, and the illustrations by David Roberts truly bring the characters to life.

Baker has more side streets and cul-de-sacs in his writing than a Terry Pratchett footnote,
Aug 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a very quick read, which was in turns beguiling, disturbing and thought provoking. The illustrations accompanying each page are wonderful, darkly complimenting the narrative.

I'm not sure I'd class this as a children's book, as it is quite gruesome in places, yet it starts off with comments directed at the reader as if they were a child.

The story fairly fizzes along, and the action isn't short in coming. There are some wonderfully dark comic moments which descend into quite an horrific f
Burak Sümer
Sep 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
The mice said "Good night Robert!".
"Thanks for the dinner."
Tricia Doe
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you ever get chance to see the play you MUST!!
Apr 13, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a delightful little foray into the macabre, as we meet a horrible little boy who meets his comeuppance. It’s certainly the darkest parable I’ve ever read - think Aesop meets Edward Gorey.

The narrative is wonderful, with Baker injecting his satirical wit into most of the plot. It was eccentric, horrifying, utterly and bombastically disgusting, and, most importantly, terribly poignant.

Although only 100 pages or so, there was a section in the middle which seemed to dull for me, making me wo
Feb 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: not-my-usual
I'm not quite sure what to say.
You certainly get what you're asking for, and the cover doesn't lie. It is gruesome. Especially the end. The majority of the book might be slightly morbid but there's a humour and light heartedness that gives you a little bravado - then all of a sudden that disappears and the book ends abruptly with a grotesque little end for our devil-of-a-protagonist. Nonetheless it's well written and really entertaining, with the right amount of satire and clever wordplay to kee
Pat MacEwen
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A morbid, depraved, but very funny look at a budding psychopath, which begins on the day of his death. Young Robert Caligari's demented career begins with his obsessive need to kick pigs, specifically his sister Nerys's tin piggy bank. It leads Robert into a series of incidents that culminates in humiliation over a bacon sandwich. Thereafter, Robert focuses on avenging himself against the entire human race, and succeeds in engineering incidents of 'accidental' violence while slowly poisoning his ...more
May 21, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A book with a short story – not a child’s book nor an adult one but with a juvenile prologue – my instincts never pointed me to a bright future for luciferian Robert, throughout the book, and that’s the reason I found his outcome somewhat predictable and had a morbid curiosity and wished for a more gruesome development in the old man phone call death threat scene. The description of the chaotic scenes aren’t that much graphic but rather adequately for the target audience and attenuated by a typi ...more
Bill Loguidice
What did I just read?

Wow. This is a disturbing book. It’s written and illustrated rather unevenly, with the occasional clever bit, although it’s very British, so if you’re very British yourself you might appreciate more clever bits than I did. I’m giving it three stars for being a book experience quite unlike any other I’ve read in as long as I can remember. It’s basically a dark, practically black, comedy that just sort of ends at one point. No payoff, no satisfaction, no moral, no reward for r
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was ok
Shelves: meh
I don't know what to make of this book.
It was a disturbing and unnerving story with no lessons to be learnt from, nor redeeming ending.
(some scenes were too graphic for my taste... I'm scared of rats now.)
Since I borrowed this book at the local library just by looking at the title and knowing nothing about the book (I didn't even read the book blurb), I was so freakin' surprized that the author Tom Baker is THE Tom freakin' Baker from DOCTOR FREAKIN' WHO.

....I want to know why he wrote this stor
Elliot Chalom
Jul 19, 2019 rated it liked it
If Roald Dahl and Shel Silverstein got together and decided to write something macabre, I suppose this is what it would look like. Which makes me think that I would love this story, but I didn't quite. the directions that it went in weren't for me, though I very much enjoyed the writing style. ...more
Robert Day
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
Please tell me that this isn't a children's book!

I'm called Robert and the 'hero' of this story is too. And that, thankfully, is where the similarity ends.

This is a gruesome tale. My wife read it first and her only comment was 'it's awful!' I tend to agree.

Read it if you have a sick sense of humour.

That's it.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A Dark yet humorous story of a boy with serious mental health issues. Robert hates everyone around him. He pretends to be nice to everyone and gains their trust only to deceive them. The thrill after causing one death leads Robert on to a much bigger event which then leads to his own very sad, lonely and painful death.
Gracie Langford
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book has great plot and twist at the end but I think it could have a bit more detail at the start of the book. Plus I think there was a little too much detail at the end of the story. Though I think there could have been more information about Frank Grice and how he met Boris.
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kind of a Roald Dahl type story for older people adults and teens........Robert what a nastey piece of work! very good narrative, amusing but also violent with graphic descriptions. I recommend this book and not just because Tom Baker is the greatest Dr Who but because its off the wall and weird.

I'm a Doctor Who fan so when I saw one of the doctors wrote a book I went ahead, and downloaded it without reading what it was about. This is a super quick read, but super weird, gross and disturbing.... So freaking disturbing!
Neil Fulwood
Apr 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quite what Baker intended with his grotesque little onus - warped character study, vicious satire of children’s fiction or out-and-out horror story - it certainly works on all of these levels. It’s also wrong on every level. And quite hilarious.
Geoff Griffiths
Feb 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
Still a delicious piece of wild entertainment - but I wish it had been from the deliciously wild imagination of the only member of the Baker family upon whom the World Health Organisation have conferred a doctorate.
Five stars for such lovely, nutty creativity would have been my immediate reaction. But as soon as I found out that Tom Baker had lazily based this tale on memories of true events from his formative years my appreciation of his achievement was necessarily diminished. So I've pulled ba
Michael Fletcher
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
I literally have no words that could adequately express what I thought of this book. I think I liked it though.
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read, and despite of it being "dark and twisted," I enjoyed it. The story itself deserves four stars, but the illustrations for me were a five. I loved them. ...more
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Thomas Stewart "Tom" Baker is an English actor and comedian. He is best known for playing the fourth incarnation of the Doctor from 1974 to 1981 in Doctor Who, and for narrating Little Britain. He was nominated for two Golden Globe Awards for his role as Rasputin in the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra. ...more

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