The Three Little Javelinas
Author: Susan Lowell
Illustrator: Jim Harris
Grade Level Equivalent:
Guided Reading Level:
Comedy and Humor
Desert Animals, Cleverness, Creativity and Imagination
Young children familiar with "The Three Little Pigs" will delight in the twists and variations that make up this engaging Southwestern retelling, now available in a bilingual edition. Coyote, the traditional trickster of the Native American Southwest, is the villain in this version, and his meal of choice (to be eaten with red chili sauce) is not pig, but javelina, a hairy, swine-like creature native to the area. The first javelina lives in a tumbleweed shack that's an easy target for the huffing, puffing coyote; likewise, the saguaro rib hut of the second javelina falls down without too much ado. Luckily, the third javelina comes to her brothers' rescue — she has built her house out of sturdy adobe bricks, with a coyote-sized wood stove as its best feature.
Lowell tells her story with energy, spicing it with bits of the culture and languages of the Southwest, yet maintaining enough of the original for children to recognize it. Harris's exuberant illustrations give a realistic picture of the landscape, but depict the characters with playful exaggeration, dressing the dapper javelinas in snazzy western duds. Consider using this enjoyable retelling to introduce students to the culture, wildlife, and environment of the Southwestern United States.