Sunday, September 25, 2005

Not My Three Little Pigs

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As I browsed the "For Sale" shelves at the local library on Thursday, I found Paul Galdone's The Three Little Pigs. My two-year-old played nearby, unfamiliar so far with the stories of her mother's childhood.

While growing up, I read the usual tales: Goldilocks And The Three Bears, Little Red Riding Hood and Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs among many others. Each one affected me, provoked thought, stirred anxiety and/or simply entertained me in some way.

I was both intriqued and frightened by The Three Little Pigs. Bothered by the wolf's persistance, by the separation of the siblings from their parents and from each other as well as by the deaths of the first two pigs, I still returned again and again to this story.

The ingenuity of the third pig delighted me and understanding the necessity of outwitting those who would harm you empowered me.

Unfortunately, I don't recall the version and, of course, in picture books the illustrations are equally as important as the text.

The above interpretation was not satisfying: while the text was faithful to my memory, the spare illustrations did not contribute to the power of the story as tiny snapshots of individual events. Colour didn't move me or impress me (it was a bit bland, actually): perhaps stronger, deeper colours would have been more effective.

I couldn't feel the sadness as I watched the crying pigs separate. The depiction of the wolf wasn't as realistic as the frightening one from my childhood. In fact, the illustrations that I recall had managed to convey a quiet, modest intelligence in the brick-building pig of my memory that is absent in this book.

Perhaps it is because I recall detailed, water-colour renderings from my childhood--perhaps that is the standard by which I've judged this book--that I am left wanting a different interpretation.

Childhood experiences with fairy tales are powerful, and remain with us until we rediscover them. (A friend discusses her experiences here.) Seeing them in the light of adulthood is a fantastic experience even if it means embarking on a quest for the exact rendering.

I will continue to search for the The Three Little Pigs of my childhood because, though it is of the same vintage, this just isn't it; but, just in case it's your version, the following:

Book Information:

Title: Three Little Pigs
Author: Paul Galdone
Illustrated: Paul Galdone
Publisher: Clarion Books (1970)
Format: Paperback, 22 pp
ISBN: 0-89919-275-0

1 comment:

  1. I love children's picture books, so you're welcome to ask for suggestions any time you need a good one! :)

    (I will be starting my PhD next year on children's literature because I love books so much!)

    Good blog. I've never been here before, but I will definitely come back.