The Three Little Pigs

by James Marshall

James Marshall's The Three Little Pigs

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow

A more detailed (and fun) version than you're used to

If you or your child is especially sensitive to fairy tale characters eating each other, James Marshall’s The Three Little Pigs is not for you. However if you’re okay with passing references to pigs being gobbled up (and children often are, despite the worries of us adults), then I highly recommend this excellent and amusing version of the classic tale.

Marshall’s book is pretty much the standard story: three little pigs are sent off into the world by their mama-pig. The first builds a house out of straw (it’s quick and easy). A hungry wolf comes along, huffs and puffs, and ultimately gobbles up the pig.

Meanwhile the second pig builds a house out of sticks. Finding himself still hungry, the wolf destroys the stick-house and eats the second pig.

The third little pig, however, realizes the value of hard work and builds a house out of bricks. Building the house takes a while, but it doesn’t blow down when the wolf comes calling.

Having satisfied the huffing and puffing and chinny-chin-chin quotas, Marshall digresses a bit from the traditional story: realizing that brute force will not work on this particular pig, the wolf tries to charm his adversary out of the house.

Let’s go buy turnips, the wolf suggest. The pig agrees and suggests they meet at six the next morning.

The astute pig, however, shows up at the turnip field at five in the morning, buys some turnips and goes home before the wolf gets there.

The wolf tries a few more tactics, inviting the pig apple picking and to the fair, but each time the pig outsmarts him in a variety of silly ways.

Finally the wolf has had it and goes down the chimney. The third pig not only catches the wolf in a pot of boiling water, as is traditional, but also cooks and eats him.

The pig and wolf eating incidents are just briefly mentioned, but if just the mention is enough to bother your child, this is definitely not the version of The Three Little Pigs you want to read.

On the other hand, the additional times the third pig outsmarts the wolf add quite a bit of humor, charm, and even suspense to the story.

James Marshall's The Three Little Pigs

Marshall provides his usual bright and fun illustrations that help keep the story moving at quick pace. I’m always a fan of James Marshall, and I found The Three Little Pigs to be an especially amusing and enjoyable version of the tale.

Read more of Sarah's reviews.

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