CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 1 . . . . September 3, 1999
Once Upon a Breath: The Story of a Wolf, 3 Pigs & Asthma.
Aaron Zevy. Illustrated by Susan Tebbutt.
Downsview, ON: Tumbleweed Press (Dist. by McClelland & Stewart Inc.), 1998.
37 pp., pbk., $7.95.
Asthma in children-Juvenile fiction.
Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 3 - 7.
Review by Mary Thomas.
The thing any child remembers of the story of the three little pigs is the exchange:
"Little pig, little pig! Let me come in!"
This version of the story includes the charm the requisite three times, in spite of the fact that B.B.
(for Big Bad) Wolf is not attempting to eat the piglets, but merely to educate them about the fact
that their polluting life style is contributing to his asthma. The pigs don't care - they vroom their
car with the broken exhaust pipe past B.B. in the street, smuggle their pet cats into the night
club where he plays a cool jazz saxophone, and blow ragweed pollen at him as he is about to
shoot the winning basket in his ball game. B.B.'s crusading spirit makes him hunt them down in
their "pad" where the three of them are "just jamming, strumming their guitars and banging their
bongo," and, when they not only won't let him in, but jeer at his threat to blow their house down
because they know he has asthma, he just has to show them. Afterwards, however, he
magnanimously hires them to be part of his night club act and lets them live in his spare room
while everyone cooperates in the rebuilding of their house.
"Not by the hair of your chinny chin-chin!"
"Then I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll blow your house in!"
All of which goes to show that you can't keep an asthmatic wolf from doing what he really wants
to do, provided he takes sensible precautions against the things which can trigger his attacks and
takes his medicines as required. If this sounds a bit like a tract put out by a drug company, well, it
is not too surprising, since that is exactly what it is. Glaxco Wellcome and Shoppers Drug Mart
have sponsored the writing of this picture book, and it shows. If, however, I had a young child
with asthma constantly saying, "Mummy, why can't I do...?," I would welcome this story which
might enable me to lighten up on some of the inevitable refusals with a few huffings and puffings.
Whether it would appeal to a wider audience I rather doubt. The illustrations are interesting, very
colourful and fun, though the same adjectives can be applied, rather less favourably, to the text,
where the variegated calligraphic styles and randomly coloured letters occasionally make the
words difficult to read.
All in all it is a picture book which is useful, rather than wonderful, but certainly well worth
having if your child or your child's friend or school mate has a difficulty such as asthma, or, by
extension, some other limiting handicap. "If B.B. can cope, so can you!"
Recommended with reservations.
Mary Thomas is presently on leave from her job in various elementary school libraries in
Winnipeg, MB, but is looking forward to returning for the next school year.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to email@example.com.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association.
Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice
is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without
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