With his large-scale, unflinching illustrations, Delessert (Alert! ) turns a retelling of the Three Little Pigs into a metaphor about dangerous marauders and how to stop them. The jacket art gives barely a hint of what's to come; the three pigs stand in a column, eyes glinting, as the first holds a flaming match to a furry tail. The tail's owner, the wolf Big and Bad, is so unslakeable in his greed that a fox warns, "Soon the planet will be too small for his appetite." Clever cats choreograph a plot to bring him down, using the unwitting pigs as bait and enlisting the construction skills of beavers, birds and badgers. Neither Delessert's words nor his pictures are for the faint-hearted. Describing the wolf's taste for fur hats, for example, Delessert shows him looking ridiculous in a cap with seven cats' tails--but with a chicken foot protruding from his jaws, the fur around them red with blood. Unlike some of Delessert's earlier titles, in which existential dilemmas lead to murky conclusions, this book arrives at a decisive--if vengeful--climax. What distinguishes Delessert's work is the willingness to explore images of evil--images from which most contemporary picture books shrink, but which lurk nevertheless in the nightmares of children. His tale is an unlikely homage to those of his literary forebears, the Brothers Grimm. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)[Page 81]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
K-Gr 4-- Wolves have received a lot of revisionist press of late. Emily Gravett pits the beast's essential nature against the kinder, gentler proclivities of today's parents in Wolves (S & S, 2006). Judy Sierra imagines a senior village resident undergoing etiquette lessons before attending a storybook tea in Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf (Knopf, 2007). Delessert's allegory features a large, lean, hungry villain that "came from far away, so nobody understood a word of what he said." Claws dangle from his mouth as he munches; paws decorate his furry hat. Individual species attempt to thwart his feeding frenzies to no avail. It is only when they band together to implement the plan devised by two clever cats involving three succulent pigs and straw, wood, and bricks that the animals achieve success. Surreal watercolor and colored-pencil scenes are rendered in the artist's signature earthy tones against white backgrounds. Touches of fiery orange and yellow are all the more noticeable when found in the sky as time passes, on the wolf's mouth and eyes as he devours his prey, and flaming from his fur when he is propelled from the chimney at story's end. Delessert's direct, sophisticated language and unnerving close-ups of the "marauding" felines and their predator are not for the faint of heart, but the message--that the powerless can reverse their fortunes if they unite and use their wits--will resonate with many readers. Suggest this title to those who enjoy a walk on the wild side.--Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library[Page 104]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.