Helen Oxenbury is the renowned illustrator of many classic picture books, including We're Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen and The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas. Ms. Oxenbury lives with her husband, illustrator John Burningham, in North London.
A talented team ingeniously up-ends the classic tale of the three little pigs, and the laugh-out-loud results begin with the opening illustration--a mother wolf lounges in bed, her hair in curlers and her toenails freshly polished, with her three fluffy, cuddly offspring gathered round. The wolf siblings, amply warned about the big bad pig, construct their first house of sturdy brick, a medium which resists the pig's huffing and puffing but is no match for his sledgehammer. Their abodes become progressively more fortress-like, and the pig's implements of destruction, correspondingly, grow heftier, until the wolves try another tack and weave a house of flowers. The fragrance so intoxicates and tames the pig that he and the wolves live together happily ever after. In his English-language debut (see note, p. 55), Trivizas laces the text with funny, clever touches, from an ensemble of animals who obligingly donate whatever building materials the wolves require, to the wolves' penultimate, armor-plated residence replete with a ``video entrance phone'' over which the pig can relay his formulaic threats. Oxenbury's watercolors capture the story's broad humor and add a wealth of supplementary details, with exquisite renderings of the wolves' comic temerity and the pig's bellicose stances. Among the wittiest fractured fairytales around. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)
PreS-Gr 3-``Once upon a time, there were three cuddly little wolves with soft fur and fluffy tails....'' They go out into the world to build a house for themselves only to be menaced by a big bad pig. In a clever switch on the familiar counterparts, these sweet-faced innocents use brick, concrete, and steel constructions, but their nemesis is not called big and bad for nothing. With sledgehammer, pneumatic drill, and dynamite, the pig wrecks each structure. ``Something must be wrong with our building materials,'' the wolves muse. Their final house is build from flowers, insubstantial yet beautiful. It is their lovely scent that causes the pig to change his nasty ways and all live together as friends happily ever after. The text has the repeating situations and phrases from the traditional version. Oxenbury's pastel watercolor illustrations combine the coziness of a nursery tale with tongue-in-cheek humor. They are animated and full of personality. Children familiar with The Three Little Pigs will enjoy the turnabout, the narrow escapes, and the harmonious ending. This may also be used to inspire them to develop their own adaptations of classic tales.-Karen James, Louisville Free Public Library, KY