Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Three Little Pigs by Steven Guarnaccia

When I first heard about this book, I was not enthusiastic. Suuuure, we need a version of the three little pigs as an "architectural tale." Then I got a good look at it and fell in love. This is the best retelling of the three little pigs I've seen for quite a long time.

There's a point when you get tired of all the fancy retellings - of course we love Sciesczka's remaginings and Marshall's kooky illustrations, but to really appreciate a fractured fairy tale you have to know where it came from, right? Plus, I think we're so caught up in the retellings and rewritings we lose sight of the basic strength of the story that has made folktales survive for so long.

Guarnaccia, while keeping a unique viewpoint of the story with a fun twist, has given us a strong, simple retelling - back to the basics! The three pigs, stylishly dressed in suits, set off into the world from their mother's house. They construct their houses of metal scraps, glass, and finally concrete and stone. The big bad wolf, suitably attired in black leather, blows down the first two houses but can't make a dent in the third. So he tries to lure out the third little pig with a viewing of a tomato greenhouse and an orchard of tasty apples - but this little pig gets up way too early for the wolf! Finally, the wolf tricks the little pig into meeting him at Frank's Flea Market...but the pig escapes yet again, rolling down the hill in a rug. The wolf tries to climb down the chimney, gets his tail scorched in the fireplace, and runs away, never to return.

Architectural fans of course will get a big kick out of identifying the various buildings and furniture on the end pages in the illustrations. But for kids, this is one fun story. It has all the classic elements of the original folktale, with plenty of modern pizzaz and flourish.

Verdict: Recommended for the story and the clean, excellent art. Read this one aloud to preschool and up so they'll be able to appreciate Sciesczka's fractured retelling when they're older!

ISBN: 9780810989412; Published March 2010 by Abrams; Review copy provided by publisher for Cybils; Purchased for the library

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