The 3 Little Dassies
By Jan Brett
Format: 32 pp.; col ill.
Age Range: 3-8 years
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2010
A retelling of The Three Little Pigs, with the story set in Namibia. Our characters, three rock dassies, need to outwit their predator, the eagle.
Description: Jan Brett finds inspiration for her version of a familiar story in Namibia, where red rock mountains and vivid blue skies are home to appealing little dassies and hungry eagles.
Mimbi, Pimbi and Timbi hope to find “a place cooler, a place less crowded, a place safe from eagles!” to build their new homes. The handsomely dressed Agama Man watches from the borders as the eagle flies down to flap and clap until he blows a house down. But in a deliciously funny twist, that pesky eagle gets a fine comeuppance!
Bold African patterns and prints fill the stunning borders, but it is the dassies in their bright, colorful dresses and hats that steal the show in this irresistible tale, perfect for reading aloud.
From School Library Journal PreS-Gr 2–Brett’s sumptuous retelling of “The Three Little Pigs” is set in southern Africa and stars three small guinea-pig-like creatures that live in rock crevices in the Namib desert. The three dassies, garbed in traditional African dresses and turbans, are harassed by an eagle, who, like the wolf in the traditional tale, wants them for supper. He flies to the dassies’ houses made of grass and sticks and screeches, “I’ll flap and I’ll clap and I’ll blow your house in!” then captures them and plops them into his nest. On the side panels another story develops with a brightly dressed lizard, the Agama Man, who is intent on rescuing the little creatures. Children will enjoy following both stories and will linger on each page following the exacting detail of the setting: the desert, the characters, the decorative borders, and all the small touches in between. This tale will captivate children and introduce a setting and animals unfamiliar to most of them.
Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, Kearns Library, UT © Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC.
From Booklist First things first: dassies, or rock hydraxes, are small mammals native to sub-Saharan Africa. In this “Three Little Pigs” adaptation, three dassies strike out to make new homes. While Timbi takes the time to construct a solid stone dwelling, hasty siblings Mimbi and Pimbi use grass and sticks, respectively. After being pursued by an eagle, the dassies’ natural predator (playing the wolf’s traditional role here), Mimbi and Pimbi find shelter at Timbi’s, where a blast from the chimney sends the villainous bird “home for a nap,” wrapping up the tale with a nonviolent end. The familiar plotline is extended in the intricate watercolor-and-gouache artwork in Brett’s signature triptych layout: each central panel reflects the action described in the text, while wordless panels on either side show equally involving scenes, all handsomely framed by depictions of cloth, beadwork, and vegetation. Brett invokes the African setting with details of the desert landscape and the animals’ colorful, patterned clothing. The last page turns the story into an inspired pourquoi tale about dassies’ habitat and the sootlike coloring of native eagles. Preschool-Grade 2.
Interesting twist on 3 little pigs story, with twist to creation myth at the end. Love the fabrics and patterns in the illustrations and how some of the side bars tell the story.
This is a beautifully illustrated book (with triptych panels) that feels like both an origin myth and a retelling of the Three Little Pigs. Set in Namibia, three dassies set off from home and build three houses (of woven grass, sticks, and brick-like rocks). An eagle is determined to turn them into dinner and a friendly lizard is equally determined to help his new friends. At the end we find out this is the reason why present day dassie live in rock homes and the eagles that soar above them are coloured black.
Post-modern picture book: I love, love, love this book! The last page was by far the best. I like how the three little pigs story can be presented with many other animals. The detail makes it seem like you are seeing real life images. The reading level is grades 1st-3rd. The story is a fun and adventurous. Each page has an image on the corners of the characters—neat to see because they weren’t directly mixed with the other characters, but they still fit perfect in the image. I definitely recommend this book!