This fresh version of the classic The Little Pigs tale is set in Namibia and features cuddly, cute dassies instead of pigs. Dassies are also known as rock hyraxes or rock rabbits. In this book, the dassies wear bright colored dresses and Namibian headwear. The story starts out with the three dassies heading out to find their own place to live. The three sisters reach the feet of the mountains after crossing the Namib Desert and decide that it is a perfect place for their homes. A friendly agama lizard welcomes them. One sister builds her house of green grasses. Another builds hers out of driftwood. The third builds hers from rocks. The wolf is replaced by an eagle intent on eating the dassies, who not only knocks over the grass and wood houses but takes the dassies up to his nest to be eaten. The rock house stays up despite being buffeted by the wind of the eagle’s wings. And the other two dassies find a unique way back to safety. But the eagle does not give up easily, allowing Brett a great way to explain why eagles are black in Namibia.
Brett has created another of her trademark books. The text reads aloud very nicely, with the rhyming names of the dassies, the rhythm of the classic tale, and the use of just enough detail to bring the Namibian setting to vivid life. Of course Brett uses her illustrations to great effect here as well in creating Namibia on the page. Readers will glimpse vistas across the desert sands and to the mountains. Brett’s illustrations are finely detailed. She uses images on either side of the main illustration to tell readers what is happening to others in the story. Brett has framed the images with African textiles, beads, and native plants. These are illustrations to spend time with an enjoy.
A clever take on a classic story, this new version will be a welcome addition with its feisty heroines and interesting setting. Appropriate for ages 4-7.
Reviewed from copy received from Putnam.