Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun alternative take on a story we all know
Cons: A few of the illustrations are different, but it's minor
The Bottom Line
Familiar story
Told from different view point
In very fun book

Setting the News Media Straight

I love reading alternative tales.  When well done, the author can provide a plausible reason for the events we know to have taken place with a different back story.  And that's the case with The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.

It turns out that the story we thought we knew about the three little pigs was all wrong.  And finally Alexander Wolf is getting a chance to set the record straight.  He's not that bad a guy.  In fact, on the day in question, he just wanted to borrow some sugar for his grandmother's birthday cake.  Unfortunately, he had a really bad sneezing cold.  And what was he supposed to do when he found a dead pig in the rubble of that first house?

The story is actually told first person, which is something you don't see too often in picture books.  I found that fun.  And it allows us to get to know the wolf, the only real character of the book.  He does a good job of explaining his actions and reactions, and he makes a convincing case for why he is innocent of the charges of terrorizing and killing the pigs (while still eating them, of course).

And that makes the book very funny.  If you just take it as it is, you'll be laughing at just how he justifies himself.

The illustrations by Lane Smith are interesting.  They certainly compliment the text and help tell the story, but a few of them are at some different angles than you would normally expect.  You can always tell what they are, and they mix realistic with cartoon elements quite well to tell the story.

Of course, if you want to take the story a bit further, there are some lessons here.  We've got two sides to every story, since Alexander's version of the story is so different from the one we all know.  Could he be innocent or is he lying through his wolf teeth?  And he blames reporters for sensationalizing the story to sell more papers.  That one will certainly go over the heads of the young kids who are the target audience of the book, but they will see the first lesson easily.

Speaking of kids, each page has a sentence or two on it, so this doesn't take that long to read.  You can polish it off in just a few minutes.  While not an official easy reader, I think many kids could get through this one with help as there are very few challenging words in the text.

Ultimately, lessons aside, this is a fun book that kids and adults will get a kick out of reading.  And you'll finally know The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs.

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