The title page shows us one of the creatures we will encounter later, a beaver, well-known in the animal world for his strong dams. He's shown next to a dirty bucket, but it's not clear till later what is actually in the bucket.
Off go the wolf cubs and they soon meet a kangaroo carrying red and yellow bricks.
We know how the story goes: the wolves need to build a stronger house, but what is stronger than bricks? Concrete! They meet a beaver who is making concrete in a mixer. He gives them all they need and they work hard on their new concrete home.
We are told of the question answer routine, "Little, frightened wolves, let me in...." and then when we turn the page... "But the pig wasn't called big and bad for nothing."
An even stronger house is needed. Luckily for the wolves, they meet a rhino driving a lorry full of "barbed wire, iron bars, armour plates and heavy metal padlocks." "The three little wolves built themselves an extremely strong house" and felt "very relaxed and absolutely safe"!
This time the wolves were playing hopscotch when the pig arrives.
What could they do now? They were certain there was something wrong with their building materials. Luckily for them along came a flamingo pushing a wheelbarrow full of flowers.
And as the pig inhaled to blow down their house ...
Hilariously funny, and kids just love the absurdity of the pig's badness and the ever stronger houses culminating in a soft swaying flowery one. Brilliant adaptation, with stunning illustrations. It begs rereading, enabling students to discover threads of visual and verbal narratives: Visually they will pick up on the different playground games, the animals and their goods, the teapot at each escape. Verbally they will enjoy the cumulative greeting from the pig, who begins by calling the wolves, "Little wolves, let me in!", and finishes with, "Little, frightened wolves with the trembling chins and the scorched tails, let me in!" They'll join in the memorable dialogues, and will love saying, "But the pig wasn't called big and bad for nothing."
Helen describes using the book as a base for re-telling well-known stories, with students creating their own retold stories. Other writing activities could include:
- Taking the view of the pig and describing being bad and then becoming good, and explaining why;
- Becoming a reporter and writing up the story for a newspaper.
- Writing a post card to mother wolf from the cubs, explaining the events, and the happy eneding.
These are challenging activities, but possible with older students who have a fair bit of language competece. This link, to a set of Scholastic activities, meant for mainstream learners but useful for ideas, may be of interest. Enjoy!