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Traditional Literature

The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka

Scieszka, Jon. The True Story of the Three Little Pigs. Ill by Lane Smith. New York, NY: Penguin Books. ISBN 0-670-82759-2
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs is a parody of the classic story of the Three Little Pigs. This Fractured Fairy Tale is told from the perspective of the Wolf, who tries to explain that the entire story has been misunderstood. A. Wolf, as is explained in the book, is simply visiting his neighbors, the three little pigs, to borrow a cup of sugar, when his terrible sneezing fit destroys their homes.
In this traditional story of the Three Little Pigs, the author takes a classic story and changes the perspective by making the wolf the narrator of this book. The illustrations take on a darker tone that are not frequently found in children’s books, focusing on a brown monochrome tone throughout each artwork instead of the rich, bright colors often found in children’s books. The colors set the tone for the darkness of the story, as the troubled character of the Wolf explains why he should not be blamed for what has happened to the pigs, he states, “Hey, it’s not my fault wolves eat cute little animals like bunnies and sheep and pigs. That’s just the way we are” (Scieszka 1989, 3). As A. Wolf continues with his story, he also includes some familiar, yet altered dialog, when he states, “He yelled back, “Go away wolf. You can’t come in. I’m shaving the hairs on my chinny chin chin” (Scieszka 1989, 17).
School Library Journal: “…the bespectacled wolf moves with a rather sinister bonelessness, and his juicy sneezes tear like thunderbolts through a dim, grainy world. It’s the type of book that older kids (and adults) will find very funny.”
New York Times: This irresistible “revisionist” retelling of the traditional tale has become a classroom hit! “Alexander T. Wolf endeavors to set the record straight, and he does an admirable job of it.”!-9780590443579
Awards won: #35 on the 2012 Top 100 Picture Books:
Related books: The Three Little Pigs by Paul Galdone, The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Stupid Fairy Tales by Jon Scieszka
Activities: Activity website:
Scholastic Extension activities:

Anansi and the Moss Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel

Kimmel, Eric A. Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock. Ill by Janet Stevens. New York, NY: Holiday House, Inc. ISBN: 0-8234-0689-X & ISBN 0-8234-0798-5
In this West African traditional story of Anansi, the mischievous little spider, Anansi discovers a unique looking moss-covered rock. Upon finding the rock, Anansi disovers that saying the words, “Isn’t this a strange moss covered rock!” (Kimmel 1988, 1), causes the spider himself to pass out for one hour. Anansi, understanding what kind of benefit this can give him, encourages all animals he encounters to walk with him until they run into the rock, say the magic words and allows an opportunity for Anansi to steal the victim’s food. And the end of the day, Anansi has collected a truckload of loot but also encounters an interesting surprise.
This book by Eric Kimmel and Illustrated by Janet Stevens is filled with bright, colorful, full page and elaborately detailed animal characters in the story. This traditional story takes on a repetitive story line, one which requires Anansi to repeat his sinister scheme repeatedly until he has gathered a great deal of stolen food from other animals. This story with a magical rock at its center, intends to teach children a lesson about selfishness as well as laziness. The story states “Anansi loved bananas, but he was too lazy to pick them himself,” (Kimmel 1988, 10) which is repeated several times in the story. In the end the lazy spider is punished for his bad deeds and receives nothing for his selfish actions. This story contains a “taste of your own medicine”/lesson-learned feel.
School Library Journal: “The text is rhythmic, nicely building suspense to the inevitable conclusion. Stevens’ complementary, colorful illustrations add detail, humor, and movement to the text. This new picture book Anansi tale will be welcomed by all trickster fans.” Maria B. Salvadore, District of Columbia Public Library.
Awards won: None
Related books: Anansi and the Talking Melon by Eric Kimmel, Anansi Goes Fishing by Eric Kimmel, Anansi and the Magic Stick by Eric Kimmel
Study guide:
Play based on the story:

The Ugly Duckling by Jerry Pinkney

Pinkney, Jerry. The Ugly Duckling. 1999. Ill by Jerry Pinkney. New York, NY: Morrow Junior Books. ISBN 0-688-15932-X & ISBN 0-688-15933-8
In this Hans Chrisitian Anderson adaptation by Jerry Pinkney, the little ugly duckling is born and does not look like his siblings. He is dark colored and large, while his siblings are small and golden colored, and he is taunted by everyone that he meets. “Did you ever see anything quite as ugly as that creature?” (Pinkney 1999) they tease. The duckling longs to be like other beautiful flying birds and endures a difficult winter alone, producing his own adventures that are guided by his appearance. In the spring time, the ugly duckling will endure changes that will alter his life forever.
Categorically, traditional tales don’t have an author, but this Hans Christian Anderson tale adapted by Jerry Pinkney is one that has been told and retold so many times that it becomes an infamous traditional story to many young children who read it and know it by heart. The illustrations are very detailed, full paged and painted in soft watercolor tones. The book seems longer than a children’s picture book, attempting to fit in many adventures in a small space. The text also seems a bit darker than expected as well as we see the duckling alone and unloved, even when others tried to befriend him, “They were kind children and wanted to play with him, but the poor duckling had never played in his life” (Pinkney 1999). The moral of this story helps teach children a lesson about fitting in and growing up and into the beautiful people we know they will become.
“Jerry Pinkney’s The Ugly Duckling is a beautiful take on an old standard.” – Steve Baranick
Kirkus Review: “Outstanding illustrations and some new characters make Pinkney’s retelling of a familiar tale memorable.”
Awards won: Caldecott Honor Book, ALA Notable Children’s Book
Related books: The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney and The Ugly Duckling by Hans Christian Anderson (compare/contrast).
Ugly Duckling Activities:


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This entry was posted on June 23, 2013 by .
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