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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Big Bad Wolf, written and illustrated by Frank Asch. Kids Can, 2011. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"By now it was getting dark outside. As Momma Pig brought in the birthday cake, Poppa Pig turned off the lights and everyone sang "Happy Birthday" to the Big Bad Wolf.
"Now we EAT!" declared the Big Bad Wolf."

I have always loved sharing alternate versions of fairy tales with my children at school and my own children at home. Some of them are so deliciously crafted. Frank Asch joins the party with this skewed version of the Three Little Pigs. The three are Poppa, Momma and Little. They are horrified to find the Big Bad Wolf knocking at their door on a quiet afternoon. So, they hide.

When Little Pig considers that it might just be the wolf's birthday, he has second thoughts and offers a big SURPRISE! when the wolf comes in the door. Momma and Poppa, sensing disaster, decide to offer up their good wishes, too. Wolf is bewildered. But, the pigs insist they want to throw him a party and he agrees, even opting for  the cake flavor that Little suggests. He knows it is all too good to be true:

"Hmmm....Pigs for dinner and cake for dessert," thought the Big Bad Wolf. "That sounds just fine to me."

While readying the cake, Momma and Poppa quietly make plans for escape. Little offers up everything else that makes birthdays special...a wrapped present, a song, the cake with the requisite wish and candles. All of this is new to Big Bad and he gets right into the celebration. However, while the house is dark with candlelight, the pigs make their escape!

Poor Wolf...first he is angry, then sorrowful to be all alone. Little will have none of it. Poppa and Momma must follow. So, they continue the party, and finally share the cake that was so thoughtfully made. But, not before supper.

Humorous, clever and brightly illustrated for young readers, this story of friendship and redemption will delight its audience and will be requested time and again.

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