Now fans of the delightful The True Story of the Three Little Pigs can hear the story read aloud in inimitable style by Jon Scieszka. Side one features a reading of the story accompanied by music, while side two offers a toe-tapping original soundtrack by composer Kurt Hoffman.
In this gaily newfangled version of a classic tale, Scieszka and Smith ( Flying Jake ) argue in favor of the villain, transforming the story of the three little pigs into a playfully suspicious, rather arch account of innocence beleaguered. Quoth the wolf: ``I don't know how this whole Big Bad Wolf thing got started, but it's all wrong.'' According to his first-person testimony, the wolf went visiting the pigs in search of a neighborly cup of sugar; he implies that had the first two happened to build more durable homes and the third kept a civil tongue in his head, the wolf's helpless sneezes wouldn't have toppled them. As for his casual consumption of the pigs, the wolf defends it breezily (``It seemed like a shame to leave a perfectly good ham dinner lying there in the straw'') and claims cops and reporters ``framed'' him. Smith's highly imaginative watercolors eschew realism, further updating the tale, though some may find their urbane stylization and intentionally static quality mystifyingly adult. Designed with uncommon flair, this alternative fable is both fetching and glib. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)