cover image Three Hungry Pigs and the Wolf Who Came to Dinner

Three Hungry Pigs and the Wolf Who Came to Dinner

Charles Santore, . . Random, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-375-82946-8

Bianca the pig, a champion hunter of the tartufo d'Alba—the Italian hill country's white truffle (according to an opening note)—has trained her piglets to walk in her footsteps. Then one day, Bianca decides to taste the fungi instead of forage for them, and "everything changed forever." Her farmer owner banishes her to the forest, where Bianca and her brood soon encounter a hungry wolf. Thinking fast, the porcine heroine introduces the potential predator to the joys of truffles; he forgets all about his natural diet and becomes an utterly devoted bodyguard, defending the pigs from a "drooling, snarling" pack of wolves. Santore (A Stowaway on Noah's Ark ) thus draws his story to a happily-sated, ever-after close. In his operatic, painterly pictures, the colors are radiant, the characters larger-than-life, and the landscapes resonate with sweep and emotion (particularly the brooding scenes in the forest). But the book's boxy format seems to cramp Santore's style—it often feels as if there's barely room for the text. That problem, however, is superseded by a bigger one: aside from a brief, vague introductory note on the dedication page, youngsters never learn why truffles are so sought-after, or, most importantly, what they taste like. Ultimately readers may walk away wondering why the stakes are so high for the cruel farmer and why the wolf fights its instincts. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)