Breaking Out of the Story with the Three Pigs

For my second post on picture books this week, I want to talk about The Three Pigs, written and illustrated by David Wiesner.  Unlike the Grandpa and Uncle Wainey books, this wasn’t a beloved childhood story for me–but that’s because it wasn’t written until I was already a teenager.  I somehow managed to stumble on it later in life, and I’m glad I did.  I’m pretty sure this would have been a beloved childhood story if I had been born twelve years later.

The story begins like the story always does, with the wolf coming to blow down the houses of the three pigs one by one.  But this time, the wolf blows the first pig right out of the story and into the margins.  He runs to get his brothers, and they escape from the wolf and go on an adventure out beyond their original storybook.  The pigs fold up one of the pages to make a paper airplane, and fly off into other stories.

I love the concept of characters coming out of the original story.  I love the absolute shattering of the fourth wall that entails.  I love the three-dimensional feeling of the book–the art makes you feel as though you can reach into it, or as though the pigs can lean out to look at you.

The art itself is beautiful.  I’ve read several books by Weisner, and he’s an incredible illustrator.  It really feels like there are works of art on every page.  He also does something very clever here where the art style changes as the pigs go in and out of different stories.  They go into a pen-and-ink drawn story at one point, and change to fit that art style.

I love retellings of traditional stories, and this is one of the most innovative and imaginative ones I’ve found.

Author’s site:

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