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"The Three Little Pigs and the Fox"

Appalachian Three Pigs

Related Appalachian Tales Related Tales from Other Regions Hispanic Connection Other Three Pigs Tales

Hooks, William H. The Three Little Pigs and the Fox. Illus. S. D. Schindler. New York: Aladdin, 1989. N. pag. Based on several oral versions from the Smoky Mountains, adding humorous details that give each character lively individual personalities, especially Hamlet, the baby girl pig who outwits the "tricky old drooly-mouth fox" and saves her brothers. Old Quilt of Three PigsThe pigs are also individualized and all survive in Andrew Lang's British version, except that the mother is old and about to die in Lang. Description and book cover at Nancy Keane's Booktalks—Quick and Simple.

At right, an antique quilt depicting the three pigs was displayed at the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in 2008. Although the images from the story are faded, you can see the houses of straw, wood and brick in the bottom two rows. Words between them refer to the wolf's threat to huff and puff. The large figure in the middle is the wolf, flanked by pigs. Photo courtesy of Doris Neudorfer, Smith Mountain Lake, VA.

“The Big Old Sow and the Three Little Pigs.” Told to James Taylor Adams by Samuel Simpson Adams, 1940, who learned it from his mother seventy-five years earlier. JTA-94. Full text in AppLit. After their mother dies, the fox convinces the first two pigs to build their houses of sticks and leaves, which he can blow down. As in other old British and Appalachian versions, the fox kills the first two pigs (cuts them up in this tale). The third pig, who builds his house out of "iron an' steel" as his mammy advised, gets into a jam when the fox begs for parts of his body to be let into the house to get warm. Then the pig scares the fox into hiding in a chest by saying the king and his hounds are coming, and the pig pours scalding water on the fox. He turns the tables on the fox by singing, "I'll have fox an' peas fer supper."

“The Big Old Sow and the Little Pigs.” Collected by Richard Chase, Damascus, VA, Dec. 3, 1941. JTA–3058. This one is almost identical to the one collected by James Taylor Adams (above), except the three pigs are black, spotted, and white. The fox goes in and eats up the first two pigs.

"The Old Sow and the Three Shoats." In Chase, Richard. Grandfather Tales. Boston: Houghton, 1948. pp. 81-87. With one full-page drawing of a pig with wolf at the door, by Berkeley Williams, Jr. The shoats decide it is time to seek their fortune and their mother asks them to visit on Sundays. She warns them to build of rock and bricks to keep the fox out, but the fox eats the Will and Tom, after convincing each of them to build of chips and cornstalks because it's easier. Jack, who does what his mammy told him, tricks the fox at his door to hide in a churn from the king, then pours scalding water in the churn. Granny in the frame story calls this one of the "Jack-'n-Will-'n-Tom tales." In his notes, Chase includes two more jokes from his source (R. M. Ward) about the third pig arguing with the fox's request to let his middlin' and then his butt in the house (p. 235). Other tales in this book are listed at Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.

"The Three Piggies." In Smith, Jimmy Neil, ed. Why the Possum's Tail is Bare and Other Classic Southern Stories. New York: Avon, 1993. Reprinted from Leonard Roberts, Sang Branch Settlers:  Folksongs and Tales of a Kentucky Mountain Family (Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1974). The pigs' names are Tom, Will, and Jack. The fox "shickels and shackels" and eats Tom and Will when they build houses of stick and straw, and wood. In the end, Jack gets the fox into a chest in his brick house and pours in boiling water.  "And that was the last of the fox. Jack burnt him up."

"The Sow and Her Three Pigs." In Roberts, Leonard (collector). Nippy and the Yankee Doodle, and Other Authentic Folk Tales from the Southern Mountains. Berea, KY: The Council of the Southern Mountains, 1958. Also in Roberts' Old Greasybeard: Tales From the Cumberland GapIllus. Leonard Epstein. Detroit: Folklore Associates, 1969. Rpt. Pikeville, KY: Pikeville College Press, 1980. pp. 25-28. The pigs who make their own homes after their mother dies are Martha, Mary, and Nancy. When questioned by her mother, Nancy decides on her own to build her house of "steel and arn." The fox says, "fiddy, fiddy, faddy" to knock down Martha's and Mary's houses and eat them. When the fox asks to get in Nancy's door, she tricks him into getting locked into her "chist," where she pours hot water, "scalded him to death and had b'iled fox for supper." Other tales in these books are listed at Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.

Ward, Marshall. "Three Little Pigs." In McCarthy, William Bernard, ed. Cinderella in America: A Book of Folk and Fairy Tales. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007. pp. 341-46, with notes on Marshall's language and detailed retelling. From a recording, c 1970, in the Burton-Manning Collection at East Tennessee State University. In chapter 13 of this book on The Hicks-Harmon Beech Mountain Tradition, one of two chapters focusing on tales from the Southern mountains. The book demonstrates that American folktales, from Revolutionary times to the present, should not be viewed as watered-down versions of tales from older cultures. McCarthy refers to other Appalachian versions of this most popular children's tale in which the pigs are also named Tom, Will, and Jack, observing that is it common for the fox in the end to hide from the threat of dogs and to be killed with boiling water. He mentions a Scots version in which the pigs are Dennis, Biddy and Rex. Other tales in this book are listed at Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.

“The Pig Who Went Home on Sunday.” Told by Donald Davis, Grandma’s Lap Stories. Audio cassette. Little Rock, AR: August House Audio, 1995. Mama Pig sends the three pigs out on their own and tells them to come home to visit on Sunday. Only the third pig heeds her advice.

Davis, Donald. The Pig Who Went Home on Sunday: An Appalachian Folktale. Illus. Jennifer Mazzucco. Little Rock, AR: August House, 2004. Picture book.

"The Sow and her Three Pigs." In Sing Down the Moon: Appalachian Wonder Tales. Theater of the First Amendment. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, 2000. Conceived by Mary Hall Surface (from KY) and David Maddox (from NC). Written by Mary Hall Surface. Lyrics by Mary Hall Surface and David Maddox. Music by David Maddox. Play with music based on Appalachian folktales, The pigs are all girls. Also includes "Jack of Hearts and King Marock," "Catskins," "Jack's First Job," "Jack and the Wonder Beans," and "The Enchanted Tree." Web pages include photos, authors' notes. Also produced as set of 2 CDs. Picture, summary of each tale and downloadable script excerpts at Dramatic Publishing Online Catalog.

Moser, Barry. The Three Little Pigs. Boston: Little, Brown, 2001. A humorous retelling of the traditional tale with some contemporary popular culture images. The first two pigs are eaten quickly before an extended battle of wits between the third pig and wolf. The victorious pig wears wolf slippers, makes wolf stew with his mama's recipe, and uses a big book called Harley Rhode Hogg's Wolf Cook. Moser is a native of Appalachia from Tennessee. Although the setting in the book is hilly, not mountainous, several details allude to Southern culture, such as a "See Rock City" sign in one scene and a jar of Bubba's No Cook BBQ Sauce, labeled "Excellent on Pork."

quilt square Related Appalachian Tales:

In Ruth White's novel telling the story of her own family in a southwestern Virginia coal camp, Little Audrey (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2008), eleven-year-old Audrey repeatedly calls her three younger sisters "the three pigs" because they seem greedy and messy to her. They sleep in the same bed because they still wet the bed. Ruth Carol, age six, is the youngest child in 1948. Audrey, the narrator, tells of folk songs and other traditions, as well as books and movies that comfort her and her mother during very hard times. See more in AppLit's Bibliography of Appalachian Fiction for Children and Young Adults.

"How Come the Pig Can See the Wind." In Johnson, F. Roy, ed. How and Why Stories in Carolina Folklore. Murfreesboro, NC, Johnson Pub., 1971. pp. 17-18. The source is Mrs. Emma Backus of Saluda, Polk Co. in Journal of Amer. Folklore 1898, 1900. Old Pig has five piglets, four black and one white. Old Brer Wolf wants them but "Miss Pig had the door locked fast." He has a plan to dress up like a man and take a sack of corn and knock on her door as if in great haste, saying he is the master come to put his mark on the new pigs. The mother sends four out, but she wants to keep the white one close because she loves him so much and she is afraid of the master. The wolf eats the piglets and wants the white one very badly. He meets Old Satan in the woods one night and asks for help. "Old Satan began to puff and blow, and puff and blow, until Brer Wolf was so frightened that his hair stood almost on end." Miss Pig hears her house a-cracking and kneels to ask God for mercy, but Satan keeps on, telling her to look at the wind. She cracks the door and looks out and "saw old Satan's breath, like red smoke, blowing on her house." This tale does not say that she kept her piglet safe. But to this day she can see wind and it's red. Those who want to see it for themselves must drink milk from left hind tit of a pig and then one can see the wind. (The other tale by Backus in this book tells of why bears hibernate, with Brer Rabbit, Brer Bar, Sis Coon, etc. as characters). Before Backus' pig tale, a piece by Edward Beverly from eastern NC tells how pigs get nervous and excited during wind storms and run around, as if seeing a demon. Pig looking at the wind and "the wind is sort of yellow, for it is the breath of the Devil."

Jack and the Robbers - or - Jack and the Animals is another well-known tale from the European-American traditions in which animals (old ones, not young ones setting out on their own) overcome the bad guys. In some Appalachian and European versions the animals are on their own.

In Sody Sallyratus a talking squirrel helps people triumph over the bear villain.

quilt square Compare the Appalachian "Three Pigs" with:

"The Three Little Pigs" in Joseph Jacobs, English Fairy Tales, 1890. Jacobs notes that the tale is probably related to the Grimms' "Wolf and Seven Little Kids," because kids, not pigs, have "hair on their chinny chin-chins" (Dover edition, 1967, p. 238). The third pig, who tricks the wolf several times to escape, scalds the wolf and eats him. Reprinted online with annotations in Sur La Lune Fairy Tales. In this site Heidi Anne Heiner also lists an Ozark variant of the tale.

"The Three Little Pigs" from Andrew Lang's The Green Fairy Book is reprinted online at Rick Walton, Children's Author: Classic Tales and Fables. In this version Blacky rescues Browny and Whitey from a fox and all three live happily ever after at Blacky's house.

The Three Little Pigs. D. L. Ashliman at University of Pittsburgh (1999-2000) reprints tales of type 24: Jacobs' and Lang's versions from England, two Uncle Remus tales by Joel Chandler Harris (from The Complete Tales of Uncle Remus, ed. by Richard Chase, 1955, with dialect normalized by Ashliman), and variants from other countries. Also linked to the Grimms' The Wolf and the Seven Young Kids.

"The Wolf and the Goat." In Russian Fairy Tales. Transl. Norbert Guterman from the collections of Aleksandr Afanas'ev. New York: Pantheon, 1945. Rpt. Random House, 1973. pp. 249-51. As in the Grimms' tale, a wolf imitates the goat's voice at the door while she is out, and her kids eventually let him in. All are eaten except the one who hides in the stove. The mother goat grieves but the wolf asks her to walk in the forest. She challenges the neighbor wolf to a contest jumping over a fire pit. The wolf falls, his belly bursts open from the heat, and the kids escape from his belly. "From then on they lived happily, acquired wisdom, and eschewed evil." The wolf's call at the door and the smart sibling who survives are like elements in "The Three Pigs," while the escape from the wolf's belly (cut open by the mother goat and filled up with rocks in the Grimm Brothers) is like some Red Riding Hood tales.

quilt square Hispanic Connection

Kimmel, Eric A. The Three Little Tamales. Illus. Valeria Docampo. New York: Marshall Cavendish Children, 2009. "In this variation of 'The Three Little Pigs' set in the Southwest, three little tamales escape from a restaurant before they can be eaten, and set up homes in the prairie, cornfield, and desert." Includes glossary with Spanish words used in the text.

Three Little Pigs / los Tres Cerditos: Bilingual Kit. By Jon Scieszka, Lane Smith, Patricia Seibert, Horacio Elena, Luz Orihuela, María Rius, Margot Zemach, Susan Lowell, Jim Harris, Maggie Moore, and Rob Hefferan, 2008. 3 English books, 2 Spanish books, 3 bilingual books, 4 hand puppets, in clear plastic carrying bag.

See list of other Three Little Pigs variants and spinoffs - compiled by Tina Hanlon.

Links checked 3/6/04   |   Top of Page   |   Last update 6/13/10


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