Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Three Pigs

To continue our theme around the three little pigs, I examined The Three Pigs by David Wiesner and found that I absolutely loved it.  I think the illustrations are part of why I enjoy it so much.  The use of white space in the book is unique and incredible and I can see why it won a Caldecott award.  My favorite illustration is the one of the three pigs perched atop a paper airplane, their tails pointed our way, as they head off the page in the upper lefthand corner, surrounded by an incredible expanse of white, somehow giving the illusion of an endless sky.

My least favorite illustration is the two-page spread of the nursery rhyme Hey DIddle Diddle.  The funny thing about it being my least favorite is that, in some ways, it is the most powerful.  It’s the first story they jump into and the color change is completely jarring, but it’s also brilliant.  The way that the pigs are one color within the nursery rhyme and their natural color outside it is incredible.   Similarly, I love the black and white drawings of the dragon, and how his head starts to turn a natural green as he begins to leave his story.  I also love that the cat from Hey Diddle Diddle followed them.

Honestly, though, the true brilliance of these illustrations is in the pages of the traditional three little pigs story and how Wiesner manipulated those pages, wrinkling them, twisting them, turning them, folding them, and still somehow managing to figure out what the picture would look like twisted and turned and folded and wrinkled in such varied ways. 

This has become one of my favorite fractured fairy tale stories.  I love reading these types of stories to my students.  The younger ones enjoy comparing the fractured tales to the traditional ones and different fractured tales to each other, while the older students often enjoy writing their own fractured fairy tales after reading a few examples.  The one issue I do have when teaching fractured fairy tales is that my students are not always familiar with the traditional tale.  It often requires some pre-teaching and some exposure to the original tale before delving into the fractured ones.  Still, when done right, the students always walk away with a true appreciation, not just for the fractured tales, but for the original ones and how easily they can be manipulated into entirely new tales to enjoy.

The Three Pigs has 38 pages (40 if you count the cover and copyright pages).  I think it could not have been accomplished in fewer pages and every single page adds to the story, but it does make me wonder if this is an exception to the rule.  I seem to remember a long time ago, learning that there were maybe three different formats for picture books and if you did not adhere to the exact number of pages in one of those formats, your chances of being published were very slim.  Of course, for a successful author, or a truly unique presentation like Wiesner’s in The Three Pigs, achieving an exception to these rules might not be as difficult as for others.

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