Barry Moser, THE THREE LITTLE PIGSBarry Mo. , $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-316-58544-6

In this unforgiving version of the cautionary classic, a scrawny wolf easily dispenses with two little pigs, but engages in a long-running battle of wits with their brother. At the outset, three blush-pink pigs set off to build their houses. The two pigs who build with straw and wood fall victim to a hollow-stomached wolf with mousy-gray fur and yellow fangs. Closely observed details attest to their grim fates; in a postmeal spread, the wolf dabs his mouth with the second pig's blue bandana as white bones protrude from a metal tool bucket and a jar of barbecue sauce (decorated with Moser's self-portrait) lies empty. Moser (Good and Perfect Gifts) then expands on the original. The author's droll product placement calls to mind Wile E. Coyote's preference for Acme equipment (the third little pig does construction with "Wolfe Pruf Cement"). Before the inevitable ending—in which the wolf winds up as stew—the villain invites the pig on three consecutive outings but gets outsmarted every time. Thus the old story gains abundant visual asides and a new subplot, but loses some of its appealingly repetitive "chinny chin chins" and huffing and puffing. What remain in Moser's tense account are a climactic one-two-three pattern and a constant threat of danger to the bald, vulnerable protagonist. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)