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Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Lesson From the Three Little Pigs

My daughter loves the Three Little Pigs, so much so that I've even been treated to a re-enactment of the story in Home Depot's door department. Multiple times.

Something I noticed when reading her Disney version of the story is that the ending is watered down from what I remember as a kid. The big, bad wolf climbs down the chimney, touches the scalding water in the kettle and zips back up to the roof. He runs into the forest and the three little pigs never see him again. They all live happily ever after.

The Leap Frog version is even more sedate. In that one, the wolf goes down the chimney and simply doesn't like the water (it's not even hot this time) and leaves.

Excuse me? What the heck happened to the pigs cooking up the wolf and eating him? And since when did all three pigs get to live? In the version I remember Pig #1 and Pig #2 get eaten up, a tasty treat of ham and bacon for that naughty wolf.

When I was at Barnes & Noble the other day I checked some of their print versions just to make sure that the macabre side of me wasn't rewriting a children's classic. I wasn't. The old-school 70's versions end with Pig #3 as the sole survivor of the pig-wolf massacre.

And you know what? That's the version I like. I bought it for my daughter so now she has the full gamut of Three Little Pig endings.

So what does this have to do with writing? A little drama isn't a bad thing- we humans crave it. You just have to make sure you don't go overboard. If the Three Little Pigs had turned into cannibals and started eating each other I would have closed the book. I have to draw the line somewhere, right?

Do you have violence in your novel? How much? Which version of the Three Little Pigs do you like best?