Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Old Woman and Her Pig

The Old Woman and Her Pig was a popular story for children, albeit one that is largely forgotten today. The story itself is a cumulative one, in which the woman tries to get her recalcitrant pig to go over the stile (see image above) so she can get home. She tries to get a dog to bite the pig, but it won't, so she tries to get a stick to hit the dog, but it won't, so she asks fire to burn the stick, but... (you get the picture). There are several different versions of this tale on-line, perhaps the easiest to read is a 1902 version here. The version from Joseph Jacobs' English Fairy Tales can be found here.

I was a bit surprised to find that there are still several re-workings of this story in print. Perhaps the most recent is a 2007 version by Margaret Read McDonald and John Kanzler, although the reviewer for School Library Journal notes that they "cut out some of the action of the original and watered down the story so that the tale seems rather pointless." I guess the violence of the original (including the hope that the rope will hang the butcher that won't slaughter the ox) just doesn't fly today. My favorite edition, one well worth tracking down, is Paul Gladone's 1961 version of the story. I'm grateful that we have such a great children's literature section at Long Beach State.



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