Jul 13, 2011

#TheList, No. 332: The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs

The True Story of the Three Little PigsJon Scieszka's picture books are amazing.  Yes, Lane Smith's illustrations aren't pretty.  They're often disjointed and creepy, but that's kind of the point.  Picture books don't have to be all gooey with cutesy drawings.  This story, which, in case you couldn't gather from the title, tells the true story of the three little pigs, is supposed to be a dark tale so creepy pictures are a perfect fit.  It's a fractured fairytale and the disjointed illustrations add to that fractured fun.  

The gist of the story: the "big bad wolf" just had a cold, he wanted to borrow some sugar to bake his granny a cake, and the pigs are actually horribly rude and wouldn't share.  Or so he says.  Look at the pictures.  Should we side with the wolf when we see that all the cops are pigs and could be siding with their fellow species? Or do we notice that when the stick house falls, it falls into what resembles a dinner place setting, complete with stick forks and a knife and a pig in the middle?  

I think this story is the perfect example of how picture books are not just useful tools for pre-school storytime sessions.  They can be useful tools in the learning process for students of all ages.  Teaching a lesson about the right to a fair trial?  Use this book to demonstrate how in the U.S. legal system, the Wolf would be afforded the opportunity to defend his actions.  Want to teach your high-school literature class about trusting narrators?  This book, coupled with the pictures, demonstrates how readers must focus on multiple aspects of the story to make an accurate assessment of what's real...and how even then can never be truly sure.  You could even use this story as an introduction to other fractured fairytales (Ella Enchanted, Rapunzel's Revenge, The Graveyard Book) or as a way to invite children to create their own twists on classics. 

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