A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the main character, Alexander T. Wolf, tells his version of the "Three Little Pigs" story from prison. (He's accused of killing and eating two of the three pigs.) The wolf presents his side of the story as the truth, but there's also the distinct possibility that he's lying. While adults will undoubtably draw larger lessons from this razor-sharp fairy tale parody, kids will probably just think it's funny.
What's the story?
Don't believe everything you read! In this, the wolf's cockamamie version of the "Three Little Pigs," he goes to the first pig to borrow a cup of sugar and sneezes hard--blowing the house down is just an accident. He eats the pigs--sure, because wasting food is wrong--in this rollicking send-up of the classic fairy tale.
Is it any good?
This send-up of the well-known story makes fun of the tendency to clean up classic fairy tales to suit modern tastes, and the book is a good introduction to the playfulness of parody. It also alludes to how a seemingly carefree laugh-along can coexist with deeper ideas. The wolf's wisecracking set off gales of laughter from a library full of 6-year-olds, but there's also a life lesson being taught: Namely, don't be so quick to judge behavior.
Writer Jon Scieszka and illustrator Lane Smith might well have been separated at birth, so perfectly do they fill any holes that may be missing from either text or artwork. Scieszka's verbal pizzazz, combined with Smith's expressionist paintings, leave no gaps to be filled.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how there can often be two -- or three, or four -- different sides to every story. Do you believe the wolf is innocent? Why or why not? When you're presented with multiple versions of "the truth," how are you supposed to know which version to believe? What role do newspapers (and other forms of media like television and the Internet) play in disseminating "the truth"? Is it safe to believe everything you read -- or can the truth be manipulated?