Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Three Little Pigs as Told by 10 (+3) Picture Books

Few, if any, folktales are as well-known or as easy to tell as The Three Little Pigs. The story probably originated in England, but it is difficult to date. It is so deeply entrenched in popular culture that nearly every English speaker knows the basic plot, including many very small children. It is therefore the perfect story for authors to play with and adapt to their own whims. And play they do! The idea for this 10 for 10 list came about when I was on Twitter plugging The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka, a very funny story told from the wolf’s perspective that I used to regularly read aloud to elementary school students as a public librarian. Carrie Gelson asked me if I had ever read The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz. I had not, but I was intrigued. I already knew of a handful of versions of the The Three Little Pigs; how many more good ones were out there?

three little pigs picture books
My husband’s drawing of a pig

I was very impressed by what I found. A number of very talented authors and illustrators have put their spin on this timeless tale in remarkable ways, adding their own brands of humor and whimsy. While these are not technically my favorite picture books, this is the most fun I have had yet working on a topic for this blog. My children have also immersed themselves in their own research, reenacting the various stories, drawing out their own versions and pouring over each and every one of the texts.

three little pigs books
The Three Little Pigs story as
illustrated by my 5-year-old son

Instead of reviewing each book in detail, I decided to let the books speak for themselves, with a bit of added information. So without further ado, here is the story of:

The Three Little Pigs as Told by 10 (+3) Picture Books

“Once there were three little pigs. They lived on a farm, as most pigs do, and were happy, as most pigs are.
(The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Bad Wolf by Mark Teague –
In this story, the wolf reforms himself at the end. Ages 2+)

“One mornin’ dere mama done give ’em some food
And tell ’em some news dat don’ make ’em feel good.
‘It’s time dat you boys find you own place to stay;
I t’ink dat you better start lookin’ today.”
(Three Little Cajun Pigs by Mike Artell is a regional twist on the tale, featuring an alligator instead of a wolf. Ages 4+)

“But remember watch out for the Big Bad Robot. It wants to chew you up.”
(The Three Little Aliens and the Big Bad Robot by Margaret McNamara is set in our solar system and stars three space-traveling aliens. Ages 3+)

“‘The first horrid little pig came across a big pile of straw. ‘This straw is PERFECT for me to build my house,’ he thought.”
(The Three Horrid Little Pigs by Liz Pichon – This twisted tale features naughty pigs and a helpful wolf. Ages 3+)

“Can you believe it? I mean who in his right mind would build a house of straw?”
(The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka – In this book, the wolf attempts to prove his innocence in the case of the murdered pigs. Ages 5+)

“The second little pig met a man with a load of sticks. ‘I’ve got it,’ said the little pig. ‘I’ll buy those sticks and build a house.’ ‘I’d think twice about that,’ said the man.”
(The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall is a straightforward, but entertaining version of the tale. Ages 2+)

“The third little tamale ran until she came to the desert. She saw cactus bristling with thorns. ‘Cactus will make a strong house. The thorns will protect me,’ the third little tamale said.”
(The Three Little Tamales by Eric A. Kimmel is an appetizing story in which the pigs are replaced by tamales. Ages 3+)

“Now, there was an evil wolf who lived in the woods nearby. One day he came to the house of the first little pig and said, ‘Little pig, little pig, let me come in.'”
(The Three Little Pigs: An Architectural Tale by Steven Guarnaccia – This book includes architectural wonders such as Gehry House, the Glass House and Le Corbusier. Ages 4+)

“‘SCRAM!’ shouted the pig. ‘Not by the hairs of my chinny chin chin will I let a WOLF in!’ “

“‘Then I’ll wiggle my rump with a bump, bump, bump and smash your house!’ Big-bottomed Boar wiggled his bottom and bumped it against [the] house.”
(The Three Little Gators by Helen Ketteman is a hilarious story about three alligators in an east Texas swamp and my son’s favorite title of the bunch. Ages 3+)

“The wolf chased Pig One to his brother’s and hollered, ‘Hey, Pigs, Let me in!’ Pig Two yelled, ‘Retreat! Or you’ll suffer defeat by the hair of my chinny-chin chin.’ One puff and the wolf blew the door down. Pig Two did his best flying kick. But, Whoosh, the wolf dodged and the pig’s foot got lodged. ‘We’ve got to get out of here quick!'”
(The Three Ninja Pigs by Corey Rosen Schwartz – This book is a winner at my house; instead of being victims, these pigs fight against the oppressive wolf. Ages 4+)

“So I went to the next house. The guy was the First and Second Little Pigs’ brother. He must have been the brains of the family. He had built his house of bricks. I knocked on the brick house. No answer. I called,”

“Little gators, let me in. I smell three tender gator skins. Chasing you has made me thinner. I need three little gators for my dinner.”

“‘No, no, no,’ said the three little wolves, ‘By the hair on our chinny-chin-chins, we will not let you in, not for all the tea leaves in our china teapot!'”
(The Three Little Wolves and the Big Bad Pig by Eugene Trivizas is another twisted tale with three good wolves and a really bad pig. Ages 4+)

“Senor Lobo answered,
‘I’ll huff and I’ll puff
like a Texas tornado
and blow your casita
from here to Laredo!'”

“So he huffed, and he puffed, and he puffed, and he huffed, but he couldn’t budge the house of stone and concrete.”

“‘I’ll try another approach,’ muttered the wolf.”

“The wolf launched himself down the chimney, screeching, ‘Here I come, piggies! You’ll soon be sausages!’ ‘No, we won’t wolfie,’ Serafina cried as the wolf slammed into the red-hot griddle. ‘You’ll soon be a WOLFFLE.’  The sizzling wolf staggered from the waffle iron. But before he could catch his breath, the pigs hosed him to the floor with a blast of maple syrup. Then they smothered him in butter, fogged him from head to toe with powdered sugar, and finished him off with a final squirt of syrup.”
(The Three Little Pigs by Steven Kellogg – This book is my personal favorite; it tells the story straight, but with plenty of juicy details. Ages 4+)

“And they all lived happily ever aft”
(The Three Pigs by David Wiesner – This Caldecott-winner does not exactly tell the story of the Three Little Pigs. It tells the story of the three pigs escaping from the Three Little Pigs book and having a series of adventures in other books. My daughter is a big fan of this title. Ages 4+)

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children's books, reviews

8 Great Beach and Ocean Books for Children

Every year my family heads out to the Jersey Shore for a week of sun and fun. I always bring a stack of picture books with me, but this year I decided to bring stories that reflected what we were experiencing on our vacation. Here are some of our favorite picture books about the beach and ocean, not counting the pirate books, which I reviewed earlier this summer.

David Wiesner is the master of the wordless picture book, and while Tuesday is arguably more famous, my favorite of his books is Flotsam. Flotsam is the name for debris that washes ashore, and in this case, it refers to an old-fashioned camera that is found by a boy on the beach. The magic begins when the boy develops the roll of film inside the camera. The photographs reveal an astonishing underwater world of clockwork fish, mermaid cities, giant starfish islands, tiny aliens and other amazing sights.  After looking through the pictures, the boy, who resembles Wiesner as a child, sends the camera back to sea with fresh film and a very special picture of himself. My children have combed through this book dozens of times and always find some small detail that they haven’t noticed before. Ages 4+

I have a soft spot for Scaredy Squirrel. I understand his state of constant neuroses coupled with a seemingly contradictory desire to experience the world. Like Scaredy I would like to completely control my environment, but alas, my (and his) plans are always going awry. But it is in that moment of spontaneity that the best fun is often had. In Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach, a book by Melanie Watt, Scaredy is too afraid to go to the real beach, so he decides to recreate one using accessible materials such as cat litter and an inflatable kiddie pool. When he needs a shell to complete the experience, he decides to risk life and limb by going to the actual beach to pick one up. What he doesn’t count on is the crowd of people waiting for him there. My children enjoy watching Scaredy overreact to every situation, and then eventually learn to relax and adapt to new surroundings. Ages 4+

Bats at the Beach by Brian Lies is a slightly bizarre, but beautiful book about bats visiting the beach. How you feel about this book probably depends on how you react to bats. Bats don’t particularly creep me (or my kids) out, so I was able to appreciate the image of bats swooping out of the eves of houses and descending onto an abandoned nighttime beach for their very own bat party. In some ways, the bats move and behave like bats; they eat insects, hang upside down and live in people’s attics. But they also have a collection of their own tiny beach supplies, surf the waves and sing around a campfire, much like humans. Both my kids love the line near the end – “As embers pop within the flames, little ones climb onto leathery lap, determined to rest but not to nap.” Ages 3+

I’m the Best Artist in the Ocean! by Kevin Sherry features a likeable, but egotistical giant squid who believes that he is the best artist in the ocean. When the other fish complain that he is making a mess, he replies that he is making a mess-terpiece and reveals his canvas to be a blue whale. My kids love talking about the different styles of art that the squid uses. I’m The Biggest Thing in the Ocean is also an entertaining and breezy read-aloud about the same clueless squid and other well-known sea creatures. Ages 3+

Somewhere in the Ocean by Jennifer Ward and T.J. Marsh is a sweet and well-illustrated nautical version of the counting song, Somewhere in the Meadow. It features many popular sea creatures, including otters, sea horses, and turtles. My son is especially impressed with the hermit crab page. Earlier today, he spent a very long time contemplating which crab was his favorite – the one with the shiny shell or the one using a cup for its home. This book can be read or sung. Ages 2+

Shells! Shells! Shells! by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace packs a lot of information into a little book, including many facts I did not know. But it maintains my five-year-old’s attention, partially because he is currently interested in learning more about shells, but more importantly because he can relate to Buddy, a silly, joke-telling bear who combs the beach for shells with his mom. Ages 5+

Speaking of informational books, Ms. Frizzle leads her class on yet another crazy field trip in Joanna Cole’s The Magic School Bus on the Ocean Floor. Magic School Bus books are packed with facts about each subject and this one is no exception. Watch Ms. Frizzle’s bus become a submarine, explore different depths of the ocean and find out how the ocean’s ecosystem works. My scientifically inclined daughter is a fan of this book. Ages 5+

Additional Recommended Picture Books about the Beach

Easy Readers about the Beach

Other Links to Children’s Books about the Beach

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Children's Books about the Beach

Link to a blog post about the beach or add your own suggestions.


Aug 02, 2013 - - 765
8 Great Beach and Ocean Books for Children

Every year my family heads out to the Jersey Shore for a week of sun and fun. I always bring a stack of picture books with me, but this year I decided to bring stories that reflected what we were experiencing on our vacation.

Aug 01, 2013 - - 1017
Reviews of Pirate Picture Books for Your Little Buccaneer

Beach weather is upon us and with that pirate season. Argh! Last year my parents and kids went on a "real" pirate ship, thanks to Pirate Voyages in New Jersey. After sailing the open sea (or at least the bay), "fighting" another pirate and drinking lots of "grog," both of them were committed to a life at sea, at least for an hour.

An Ode to Islands and Beaches: Four Water-themed Picture Books | on

I still have quite a lot of water-themed picture books that I borrowed from the library, and I shall attempt to review as many as I could until end of the year. I have grouped them into themes/categories and these four glorious picture books celebrate islands and beaches and waves.

Aug 01, 2013 - - 966
13 Books About The Beach For Kids - No Time For Flash Cards

Exploring the ocean, tide pools and the beach is great to do in person but if you are landlocked you can still share the wonders of the ocean with your children with great picture books. If you can go explore the beach reading books about the beach for kids like these before and after are a great way of deepening their hands on experience.

Aug 01, 2013 - - 769
A Beach Unit - Beach lessons, links, ideas, and more for the classroom!

Teaching Heart's Beach Thematic Unit Put on your sunglasses and grab a lemonade... You will be laying in the shine of your computer and swimming around this page for beach ideas to use in your classroom. You will find beach crafts, beach lessons, beach books, beach activity sheets, and many more beach goodies.

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