Jon Scieszka's The True Story of the Three Little Pigs (1989) turned the favorite porkers' story upside-down by allowing the grossly misjudged wolf to tell his side of the story. Wiesner's latest is a post-modern fantasy for young readers that takes Scieszka's fragmentation a step further: it not only breaks apart and deliciously reinvents the pigs' tale, it invites readers to step beyond the boundaries of story and picture book altogether.
The book begins predictably: the three pigs set out to seek their fortune, and when the first pig builds a house of straw, the wolf blows it down. Here's when the surprises start. The wolf blows the pig right out of the picture and out of the story itself. In the following frames, the story continues as expected: the wolf eats the pig and moves on to the other houses. But the pictures no longer match up. Frames show the bewildered wolf searching hungrily through the rubble as first one, then all the pigs escape the illustrations and caper out into open space with the loose pages of the wolf's tale swirling around them. After fashioning a paper airplane from a passing page, the emancipated pigs soar off on a sort of space flight through blank white spreads, ultimately discovering other picture-book "planets" along the way. Finally, the pigs wander through a near-city of illustrated pages, each suggesting its own story. Joined by the nursery rhyme Cat and Fiddle and a fairy-tale dragon, the pigs find and reassemble the pages to their own story and reenter to find the wolf still at the door. In the end, the story breaks down altogether, as the wolf flees, the text breaks apart, letters spill into a waiting basket, and the animals settle down to a bowl of . . . alphabet soup instead of wolf stew.