What Abe Reads: The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell

Abe has a very sophisticated taste in literature for such a young age...Okay, so it's not so much "What Abe Reads" as "What Mom Reads to Abe", but I've decided to do this little column all the same. These are the books Abe and I enjoy reading together - the picture books you should all read to your kids. You can expect to see this column a few times a month, or whenever we find a particularly good one.

The Three Little Javelinas. There is so much to say about this book. This one was a Robbins Family classic. When my brother, sister, and I were little, we read this book allllll the time. It is a spin off of the classic "The Three Little Pigs," but this tale takes place in the Arizona dessert.

For those of you who don't know, a javelina (ha-ve-LEE-nah) is medium-sized mammal that resembles a pig. It is very hairy, though, and wild. They reign supreme in South America and in the southwestern US.

This story follows the same pattern as The Three Little Pigs - the three little javelinas attempt building homes out of various materials. The materials they use, however, are typical to dessert climate: tumbleweeds, saguaro ribs, and finally adobe. The evil coyote is intent on eating the little havelinas, but they luckily thwart him and are able to settle safely into the adobe house.

I like this version of the story because it provides informational snippets about dessert life and Native American and Spanish cultures. It even provides pronunciation examples of the hard words like saguaro and adobe. The classic imagery paints a beautiful and accurate portrayal of the Arizonan wild, and the charming illustrations add even more to the story. Southwestern style and culture is pinpointed to a tee.

For me, a good picture book needs to tell an interesting and well-developed story in addition to having beautiful illustrations. This book meets and exceeds both of those expectations, and for that I give it an A++!

This past March, Grant, Abraham, and I took a vacation down to Arizona with the rest of my immediate family to visit my Nana and Papa, where they have a retirement home. I was amazed at the beauty of the dessert - there were cactuses and wildflowers everywhere and the sky was the deepest blue. Though we didn't see any, it is true that the javelinas run rampant out there. We, of course, had a fantastic time. Abe experienced hiking, camping, and swimming all for the first time, and slept through an entire arboretum tour! My nana decided to buy him The Three Little Javelinas as a keepsake of the first time he ever visited Arizona. This book is definitely one we will cherish and read over and over again.

The third little javelina trotted through beautiful palo verde trees, with green trunks and yellow flowers. She saw a snake sliding by, smooth as oil. A hawk floated round and round above her. Then she came to a place where a man was making adobe (aDOE-be) bricks from mud and straw. The bricks lay on the ground, baking in the hot sun. The third little javelina thought for a moment, and said, “May I please have a few adobes to build a house?”
— Susan Lowell