Thursday, August 3

The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs by A. Wolf

In accordance with the FTC, Quill Café would like to disclose that the reviewer plucked this from his bookshelf. The opinions expressed are his and no monetary compensation was offered to him by the author, illustrator or publisher. He didn't even get a cup of sugar. Cover art is copyright of Scholastic.

This is the story of Alexander T. Wolf as dictated to Jon Scieszka. It is illustrated by Lane Smith in browns, greys and dusty colours. It tells the tale of how Alexander – aka Al – was baking a cake for his sick granny when he ran out of sugar.

This is Al's side of the "Three Little Pigs" story, which seeks to paint him as the victim of the whole ordeal. Excuse me while I scoff. I read this story and Al is far from innocent. Why? Al commits serial manslaughter.

I understand why Al would be reluctant to call the police – or a huntsman – in the aftermath of each of these incidents. Racially motivated police brutality is not the best incentive to call the authorities when you're a wolf who has just committed manslaughter. Yet Al's reaction to each of these accidents is ill-advised to say the least. It isn't even the panic-induced "Whoops I just killed someone, what to do?" trope you see in the movies. It's far more detached, which is a little unnerving.

I do not understand why Al would go door to door asking for a cup of sugar. He's got one neighbour who's so poor he had to build a house out of straw, one who's busy and racist, and another who's angry and racist. He must not know his neighbours at all, and who asks strangers for a cup of sugar?

While I don't find Al guiltless in his actions, he is villainised by the media. They use the most threatening-looking photograph of him they can find and buzzwords like "big" and "bad" to describe him. It is spun to depict him – and wolves in general – as dangerous. This is shown on the cover page of "The Daily Pig" (All the News that's Fit for Pigs) with the headline "Big Bad Wolf," which includes an image of a wolf's teeth with the caption "Seen as Menace."

'The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs' is an interesting one to read with an objective eye. It does not depict A. Wolf as blameless but it does highlight how the media intertwines prejudice and sensationalism.

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