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"Designed with uncommon flair," said PW, this "gaily newfangled version of the classic tale" takes sides with the villain. "Imaginative watercolors eschew realism, further updating the tale." A Spanish-language reprint will be issued simultaneously ($4.99, -055758-X). Ages 3-8. (Mar.)
Gr 1 Up--Victim for centuries of a bad press, Alexander (``You can call me Al'') T. Wolf steps forward at last to give his side of the story. Trying to borrow a cup of sugar to make a cake for his dear old Granny, Al calls on his neighbors--and can he help it if two of them built such shoddy houses? A couple of sneezes, a couple of dead pigs amidst the wreckage and, well, it would be shame to let those ham dinners spoil, wouldn't it? And when the pig in the brick house makes a nasty comment about Granny, isn't it only natural to get a little steamed? It's those reporters from the Daily Pig that made Al out to be Big and Bad, that caused him to be arrested and sent to the (wait for it) Pig Pen. ``I was framed,'' he concludes mournfully. Smith's dark tones and sometimes shadowy, indistinct shapes recall the distinctive illustrations he did for Merriam's Halloween ABC (Macmillan, 1987); the bespectacled wolf moves with a rather sinister bonelessness, and his juicy sneezes tear like thunderbolts through a dim, grainy world. It's the type of book that older kids (and adults) will find very funny.--John Peters, New York Public Library