Top 100 Picture Books #68: The Three Pigs by David Wiesner
So meta. It blew my mind the first time I read it, and continues to do so. – Kyle Wheeler
I love Weisner’s books, but out of them all, this is my favorite. I love the meta-ness of it, and I never get tired of reading the story aloud (even if I know how it ends). – Melissa Fox
I love metafiction, and this book is perhaps – perhaps – the only example to surpass Grover’s classic “Monster at the End of this Book.” Leave it to David Wiesner... – Aaron Zenz
And the word of the day is . . . meta. It is, by all appearances, impossible to describe this book without invoking that word. Last time this was on the list (at #53) Kathe Douglass said of it, “More metafiction as Wiesner explores the space around a book, and behind, and between.” So, you can see, it’s the only term that fits to a tee.
Yet another Caldecott Medal winner graces the list. And if we are to rank Wiesner’s wins in order of popularity, then clearly his 2002 award winning book The Three Pigs outdoes Flotsam (#77) in terms of public perception. When I first reviewed this book I titled the review “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Fourth Wall?” I’ll stand by that. Before Willems’ Pigeon ever got his wings, Wiesner’s book contained characters in search of their own story.
A synopsis from my review: “I think we’re all familiar with the story of the three little pigs. Three pigs build houses of their own. The first is made of straw, the second of sticks, and the third of bricks. Then a big bad wolf comes along and blows the first house down. And that’s when things start to get interesting. Instead of eating the pig (as the text instructs) the wolf is baffled to find the pig gone. In fact, Pig #1 has inadvertently been blown into the white margins of his own story. Able now to travel freely around the static pictures of his tale, Pig #1 has his two brothers join him in the margins. They construct one of the story’s pictures into a paper airplane and fly it about. They walk in and out of other stories, making new friends along the way. Finally, it’s time to return home and the pigs know the perfect way to make their tale have a happy ending.”
- Feel like taking a peek? Read much of the book here, if you’ve half a mind to.
Publishers Weekly said, “Wiesner’s (Tuesday) brilliant use of white space and perspective (as the pigs fly to the upper right-hand corner of a spread on their makeshift plane, or as one pig’s snout dominates a full page) evokes a feeling that the characters can navigate endless possibilities–and that the range of story itself is limitless.”
The New York Times added, “Wiesner’s dialogue and illustrations are clever, whimsical and sophisticated.”
And School Library Journal summed it all up with, “Witty dialogue and physical comedy abound in this inspired retelling of a familiar favorite.”
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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