Reviews for Three Pigs


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 May 2001
/*Starred Review*/ Ages 6-9. Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (1989) turned the favorite porkers' story upside-down by allowing the grossly misjudged wolf to tell his side of the story. Wiesner's latest is a post-modern fantasy for young readers that takes Scieszka's fragmentation a step further: it not only breaks apart and deliciously reinvents the pigs' tale, it invites readers to step beyond the boundaries of story and picture book altogether.The book begins predictably: the three pigs set out to seek their fortune, and when the first pig builds a house of straw, the wolf blows it down. Here's when the surprises start. The wolf blows the pig right out of the picture and out of the story itself. In the following frames, the story continues as expected: the wolf eats the pig and moves on to the other houses. But the pictures no longer match up. Frames show the bewildered wolf searching hungrily through the rubble as first one, then all the pigs escape the illustrations and caper out into open space with the loose pages of the wolf's tale swirling around them. After fashioning a paper airplane from a passing page, the emancipated pigs soar off on a sort of space flight through blank white spreads, ultimately discovering other picture-book "planets" along the way. Finally, the pigs wander through a near-city of illustrated pages, each suggesting its own story. Joined by the nursery rhyme Cat and Fiddle and a fairy-tale dragon, the pigs find and reassemble the pages to their own story and reenter to find the wolf still at the door. In the end, the story breaks down altogether, as the wolf flees, the text breaks apart, letters spill into a waiting basket, and the animals settle down to a bowl of . . . alphabet soup instead of wolf stew.Wiesner uses shifting, overlapping artistic styles to help young readers envision the pigs' fantastical voyage. The story begins in a traditional, flat, almost old-fashioned illustrative style. But once the first pig leaps from the picture's frame, he becomes more shaded, bristly with texture, closer to a photographic image. As the pigs travel and enter each new story world, they take on the style of their surroundings--the candy-colored nursery rhyme, the almost comic-book fairy tale--until, in the end, they appear as they did at the beginning. Chatty dialogue balloons also help guide children through the story, providing most of the text once the characters leave the conventional story frames, and much of the humor ("Let's get out of here!" yells one pig as he leaps from a particularly saccharine nursery world). Despite all these clues, children may need help understanding what's happening, particularly with the subtle, open-ended conclusion. But with their early exposure to the Internet and multimedia images, many kids will probably be comfortable shifting between frames and will follow along with delight. Wiesner has created a funny, wildly imagined tale that encourages kids to leap beyond the familiar, to think critically about conventional stories and illustration, and perhaps to flex their imaginations and create wonderfully subversive versions of their own stories. ((Reviewed May 15, 2001)) Copyright 2001 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Fall
In this postmodern interpretation, the style of the artwork shifts back and forth a few times, as Wiesner explores different realities within a book's pages. The story begins by following the familiar pattern, but the art and dialogue balloons tell another tale: the pigs actually step out of the panel illustrations without being eaten and the perplexed wolf remains behind. There's a lot going on here, but once you get your bearings, this is a fantastic journey told with a light touch. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2001 #3
David Wiesner's postmodern interpretation of this tale plays imaginatively with traditional picture book and story conventions and with readers' expectations of both. (Though with Wiesner, we should know by now to expect the unexpected.) Astute readers will notice the difference between the cover's realistic gouache portrait of the three pigs (who stare directly out at the viewer with sentient expressions) and the simple outlined watercolor artwork on the title page. In fact, the style of the illustrations and the way the characters are rendered shifts back and forth a few times before the book is done, as Wiesner explores the possibility of different realities within a book's pages. The text, set in a respectable serif typeface, begins by following the familiar pattern-pigs build houses, wolf huffs and puffs, wolf eats two pigs, etc. But while the text natters on obliviously, the pigs actually step (or are huffed and puffed) out of the muted-color panel illustrations without being eaten. Escaping their sepia holding lines and the frames of their predictable storybook world, they enter a stark white landscape where they are depicted realistically with more intricate shading. The now-3-D-looking pigs, released from the story's inevitability, explore this surrealistic realm. The perplexed wolf remains behind in the two-dimensional pages, which, when viewed from the pigs' new vantage point, stand vertically in space, looking altogether like paper dominoes waiting to be knocked down. And that's what the three pigs do, with glee. The pigs' informal banter appears in word balloons in a sans-serif font; a few striking wordless spreads feature the pigs flying (this is Wiesner, after all) across blank spreads on a paper airplane made from a page of their story. Obviously, there's a lot going on here, but once you get your bearings, this is a fantastic journey told with a light touch. The pigs encounter other free-standing story pages; they enter and exit a nursery rhyme and then a folktale, morphing into and out of each one's illustrative style. Saccharine, cotton-candy illustrations cloy "Hey Diddle Diddle" ("Let's get out of here!" one pig exclaims); precise black-and-white line drawings dignify a folktale about a dragon who guards a golden rose. The cat and its fiddle as well as the chivalrous dragon join the pigs in full-color, realistic definition, and eventually the five friends end up back at the pigs' story. After shaking the type off the pages, the animals re-enter the tale-but this time on the pigs' own terms. The last page shows them all happily ensconced in the full-page watercolor illustration, using letters of text to write their own happy ending while the wolf sits outside at a nonthreatening distance. Wiesner may not be the first to thumb his nose at picture-book design rules and storytelling techniques, but he puts his own distinct print on this ambitious endeavor. There are lots of teaching opportunities to be mined here-or you can just dig into the creative possibilities of unconventionality. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Magazine

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Kirkus Reviews 2001 April #1
With this inventive retelling, Caldecott Medalist Wiesner (Tuesday, 1991) plays with literary conventions in a manner not seen since Scieszka's The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales (1993). The story begins with a traditional approach in both language and illustrations, but when the wolf huffs and puffs, he not only blows down the pigs' wood and straw houses, but also blows the pigs right out of the story and into a parallel story structure. The three pigs (illustrated in their new world ina more three-dimensional style and with speech balloons) take off on a postmodern adventure via a paper airplane folded from the discarded pages of the traditional tale. They sail through several spreads of white space and crash-land in a surreal world of picture-book pages, where they befriend the cat from "Hey, Diddle Diddle" and a charming dragon that needs to escape with his cherished golden rose from a pursuing prince. The pigs, cat, and dragon pick up the pages of the original story and return to that flat, conventional world, concluding with a satisfying bowl of dragon-breath-broiled soup in their safe, sturdy brick house. The pigs have braved the new world and returned with their treasure: the cat for company and fiddle music, the dragon's goldenrose for beauty, and the dragon himself for warmth and protection from the wolf, who is glimpsed through the window, sitting powerlessly in the distance. On the last few pages, the final words of the text break apart, sending letters drifting down into the illustrations to show us that once we have ventured out into the wider world, our stories never stay the same. (Picture book. 5-9) Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 February #4
Even the book's younger readers will understand the distinctive visual code. As the pigs enter the confines of a storybook page, they conform to that book's illustrative style, appearing as nursery-rhyme friezes or comic-book line drawings. When the pigs emerge from the storybook pages into the meta-landscape, they appear photographically clear and crisp, with shadows and three dimensions. Wiesner's (Tuesday) brilliant use of white space and perspective (as the pigs fly to the upper right-hand corner of a spread on their makeshift plane, or as one pig's snout dominates a full page) evokes a feeling that the characters can navigate endless possibilities and that the range of story itself is limitless. Ages 5-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2001 April
K-Gr 6-In Tuesday (Clarion, 1991), Wiesner demonstrated that pigs could fly. Here, he shows what happens when they take control of their story. In an L. Leslie Brooke sort of style (the illustrations are created through a combination of watercolor, gouache, colored inks, and pencils), the wolf comes a-knocking on the straw house. When he puffs, the pig gets blown "right out of the story." (The double spread contains four panels on a white background; the first two follow the familiar story line, but the pig falls out of the third frame, so in the fourth, the wolf looks quite perplexed.) So it goes until the pigs bump the story panels aside, fold one with the wolf on it into a paper airplane, and take to the air. Children will delight in the changing perspectives, the effect of the wolf's folded-paper body, and the whole notion of the interrupted narrative. Wiesner's luxurious use of white space with the textured pigs zooming in and out of view is fresh and funny. They wander through other stories-their bodies changing to take on the new style of illustration as they enter the pages-emerging with a dragon and the cat with a fiddle. The cat draws their attention to a panel with a brick house, and they all sit down to soup, while one of the pigs reconstructs the text. Witty dialogue and physical comedy abound in this inspired retelling of a familiar favorite.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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