Claverie, Jean – The Three Little Pigs – Book Review

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One thing I’ve noticed is that fewer children know the original fairy tales. Some are exposed to fractured fairytales and spoofs before they have even come in contact with the original. Even though these stories are old, they are still a big part of our cultural reference when it comes to literature. Probably the most well-known classic is The Three Little Pigs.

The version retold and illustrated by Jean Claverie, translated and adapted by Elizabeth D. Crawford has a lot to offer. It begins, “Once upon a time there were three little pigs. They loved one another very much, although each was very different from the other.” What a lovely way to teach acceptance of differences.

The illustrations are in soft pastel and pencil. They have a warm, gentle quality. Each pig’s character comes through beautifully. The first appearance of the big bad wolf is chilling. In an interesting twist, the Wolf says, “who dares to build houses on my land?”

The writing is vivid and rich, “Ha, two tender morsels at once!”

Neither the pigs nor the wolf meet their final demise in this version. At the end, the brick house is expanded so that the three little pigs can live together and also bring their mother. The story ends with the inverse of its beginning. On the first page, mother and the three pigs are crying as they hug goodbye. On the last page, mother and the three pigs are hugging and smiling as they say hello.

Some versions of The Three Little Pigs can be quite frightening but this one manages to arouse our concern for the pigs without becoming overly frightening. The wolf is genuinely villainous, but yet we have the feeling he also should be accepted for his differences.

This is a suspenseful but warm and gentle version of a timeless classic, suitable for even the youngest reader.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages