Three carny pigs push a patient wolf too far in Gravett’s latest.
On the opening endpapers, three pigs with a net chase a wolf. Soon they’re pasting up a circus poster trumpeting, “The Three Pigs Proudly Present WOLF WON’T BITE!” One pig wears a ringmaster jacket, one a tutu and one a weightlifter’s leotard. In elaborate and ever-shifting display types, they crow, “Roll up! Roll up! Roll up! We have caught a wild wolf!” The wolf, looking dubious, sticks his head out of an old-fashioned wheeled circus cage. White space surrounds the animals, showing no context beyond props. Oil-based pencil sharpens and details red, pink and gray watercolor (the tutu’s yellow-white). These pigs are barkers, announcing each trick as they do it. They ride the wolf like a horse; they throw knives at him. When they shoot him from a cannon, he rockets from the back-middle of the left page right off the spread’s front right corner, about to smash into readers. Subtlety is conveyed in the wolf’s priceless expressions (doubtful, apprehensive) and the question of why the pigs are so cocksure, repeatedly boasting, “WOLF WON’T BITE!” Their hubris whets readers’ expectations: Surely the pigs go too far? The punch line’s not a bite, but it’s a welcome turnaround—and don't miss the closing endpapers.
A slightly cryptic but satisfying wolf/pig reversal. (Picture book. 2-5)