Thursday, April 03, 2008

Review: The Three Little Wolves

and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Triviza. This is a "fractured fairytale" reversing the story of the three little pigs. "Once upon a time, there were three cuddly little wolves with soft fur and fluffy tails who lived with their mother." She sends them into the world to build a house for themselves.

Unfortunately the Big Bad Pig comes prowling around and destroys their houses one after another. When their brick house won't blow down he gets a sledgehammer and destroys it. The pigs build in concrete, adding barbed wire, thirty seven padlocks and a video entrance phone. Big Bad Pig doesn't give up till he's blown everything sky high with dynamite.
"Something must be wrong with our building materials", the pigs said. "We have to try something different. But what?"

Herein lies the kernel of radical wisdom. The pigs do something few people would imagine. When a flamingo comes down the road with a wheelbarrow full of flowers the pigs decide to build a house of flowers. Seems crazy, right? The walls are made of daffodils, roses, and cherry blossoms.
"They had water lilies in their bathtub, and buttercups in their refrigerator." It was a rather fragile house and it swayed in the wind, but it was very beautiful."

My favorite part of the book is what is not said here. Readers are immediately wondering what will happen when you-know-who starts to huff and puff. The wolves are reveling in beauty, apparently not concerned at all. We are left to contemplate the wisdom or foolishness of their strategy.

When Big Bad Pig takes a deep breath to blow the house down "he smelled the soft scent of the flowers." A transformation occurs that changes everything.

The illustrations by Helen Oxenbury are just right for this refreshing twist on an old tale. The personality of the wolves and the pig is shown in every tail kink and cocked eyebrow. It's delightful to see the stereotypes of good/bad character turned on their heads. Without being heavy-handed with moral teaching this story shows children alternatives to escalating shows of force and terror-induced security obsessions. It's a great tale for starting conversations about peaceful conflict resolution. Use it to teach the Quaker SPICES of Peace and Community.

Lesson Plan: compare/contrast with Three Little Pigs

Get it from Quaker Books Online

Podcast at Just One More Book


Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

This is one of the signature books at my son's preschool; all the classes use it in some way or another. We love it at home, too--our favorite is spotting the teapot every time the wolves rescue it from their besieged house(s). Thanks for the review!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Hey that's great! I never even noticed the teapot. I just love the expressions on the wolves' faces.

I bought this book for my five year old last fall at the bookfair. He loves it!

Charlotte said...

I love this book too!