The Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs


Galdone, Paul. 1970. THE THREE LITTLE PIGS. New York: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0899192750.

Plot Summary

This version of the famous tale opens with the mother tearfully sending her three young pigs off to seek their fortune because she has no money to keep them. One pig builds a house of straw, another of sticks, only to have a wolf destroy their homes and devoir each as a tasty treat. When the wolf comes upon the third pig in his brick house, he is expecting another easy meal, but the knowing pig has some tricks of his own. First the fox tries to lure the pig to a turnip field, but the clever pig asks the right questions, and outsmarts his predator. The cunning wolf tries to beguile the pig to follow him to an apple orchard, and then a fair, but each time the creative pig comes up with ways to deceive the wolf.

At this point in the story the wolf is so angry he decides to cast aside distractions and climb down the chimney of the brick house and end things for the pig once and for all. As the wolf is climbing up the chimney, the pig quickly gathers supplies to ensure the wolf will end up as his tasty treat instead. The lone surviving pig lives happily ever after.

Critical Analysis

Using narrative and visual elements Galdone tells his adaptation of this classic tale showing planning and perseverance prevail for the last of these three swine siblings. A shamrock motif on the flysheet and title page foreshadow something lucky happening in this story, which begins with the traditional line “Once upon a time.”  Colorful watercolor illustrations depict the cheerful pigs following their mother’s advice as they seek their fortune. Stalks of straw frame a picture of the first pig, as he puts the finishing touches on his house. But the scene turns from calm to chaos with straw flying everywhere, as the wolf makes good on his promise to “huff and puff and blow your house in” destroying the pig and his happy home.

As each subsequent house becomes sturdier, Galdone’s attention to detail increases. The house made of sticks shows a window framing the face of a worried pig. The brick house is introduced with a picture showing a plumb line and the pig using tools to build his home. For the first time in the story Galdone takes the reader inside the house. We see flowers and fruit on the table, framed family portraits on the wall, and a pig sitting reading a book, when the wolf first appears. Galdone’s drawing of the wolf shows him as big, bad, and mean with expressive yellow eyes, sharp teeth and a bright pink tongue. The contrast between the wolf and the cute, clever pig will make children cheer when he outwits his evil stalker and good triumphs with a happy ending.

Review Excerpt

SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL review: “A very appealing edition of a beloved story.”


  • Transcribe the scenes from the story on cards, shuffle the cards and discuss story sequence with students.
  • Working in three groups, have students decorate a milk carton house with straw, sticks and paper bricks. Retell the story with these visuals.
  • Encourage older children to rewrite the ending of the story. What happens in their version when the angry wolf climbs down the chimney of the brick house? Have children read their alternate endings aloud to the class or in small groups.
  • Another art activity could involve children making masks of the different characters using paper plates and elastic cord. Have children reenact the story wearing their masks, encouraging the different animals to recite their famous lines.

Image from: Amazon


About libraryloverleslie

I love libraries and books, most especially those for children and young adults. I’m a Children’s Librarian in the Pacific the dream!
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