Tuesday, 23 April 2013

T for Three Little Wolves

'The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig' by Eugene Trivizas (what an interesting man, do go read his wiki page), illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (coincidentally married to John Burningham who I wrote about earlier this month). I thought I still had this book but unfortunately not. I will definitely buy another copy. The pictures today are courtesy of Passionate about Picturebooks, where a lovely lady called Sandie shares her enthusiasm for books that she uses in teaching english. This is another book where you really need to be familiar with the original to appreciate the subversion of the tale. 

The three little wolves are sent out into the world by their mother, after a stern warning about the Big Bad Pig, and meet a random selection of animals who provide them with building materials. Rather more robust than the feeble house of straw that the little pigs build, the wolves start off with one made of bricks. However, after all the huffing and puffing, we discover that the pig "isn't called big and bad for nothing" and he takes a sledgehammer and knocks it down:
So they follow that up with a house of concrete and then a house made of metal sheets and barbed wire. I rather like the bit where the Big Bad Pig does not knock on the door but buzzes for their attention via the video entrance phone. I also like the fact that their most precious possession is a china teapot that they manage to save on each occasion.
What is lovely about the pictures is how beautifully the animal roles are reversed; the wolves do look sweet and defenceless and the pig looks mean and vicious. 
In a very neat bit of outside-the-box thinking the wolves then decide to build a house of flowers. It has roses and sunflowers and cherry blossom, it smells beautiful and it sways gently in the breeze.
When the Pig comes to try and blow it away he is so overwhelmed by the scent of the flowers that he sees the error of his ways and ends up playing games and having tea with the wolves, and they all live happily ever after. This book is the whole package, fantastic illustrations, full of details that are integral to the story, and an excellent clever tale, with an interesting point to make about the nature of criminality. I always liked books that give rise to conversations about the motivations of the characters, and this one was always thought provoking.

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