- Huff & Puff
Rueda presents a slight twist on the three pigs story, as the viewer becomes the wolf, trying to blow down the pigs' houses by blowing through a series of die-cut holes in the pages, while the pigs—here apparently quite inclined to the culinary arts—look on in dismay as their houses fall down around them while they are in the midst of cooking. When we come to the brick house, however, the viewer has to huff and puff twice, the first time trying (unsuccessfully) to blow down the brick house, and the second time to blow out (successfully) the candles on a cake held by the three smiling pigs in the brick house. Rueda's minimal text is crisp and simply patterned: "First pig building a house. First pig inside the house. One wolf huffing and puffing. Huff & Puff. First pig is not happy," thus distilling the story down to its most basic folkloric elements. This works effectively until the final plot turn: Why would the pigs bake a cake for someone who has been knocking down their houses? This lapse in logic will likely bother some justice-minded kids; others will simply enjoy the interactivity of this riff on a familiar tale. Rueda's pen and ink and watercolor illustrations have a similarly minimalist vibe, with thin, black scratchy lines outlining and accenting the pale tints of pinks, browns, golds, and blues of the pigs and their homes, all of which is placed against lots of clean white space. The pages on which the reader is exhorted to "huff & puff " are matched to the corresponding house; the page for blowing down the brick house looks like bricks, for example, while the words "Huff & Puff " appear in block letters above and below the die cut "blowhole." If you can overlook the puzzling ending, this is an artfully done book that may have a variety of school and library uses.