Sisters Three: The Three Little Dassies by Jan Brett
HOT, HOT, HOT!
THE THREE LITTLE DASSIES WERE ALMOST GROWN UP AND IT WAS TIME FOR THEM TO FIND THEIR OWN PLACE.
MIMBI, PIMBI, AND TIMBI WAVED GOODBYE TO MOMMY, DADDY, AUNTIES, UNCLES, AND ALL THEIR COUSINS AND SET OUT FOR THE DISTANT MOUNTAINS.
In the best folktale tradition, the three dassies set forth to seek their fortunes in "a place cooler, a place less crowded, a place safe from the big eagles."
Their quest leads them to the far-away red mountains, a long trek which leaves the little dassies very tired at the end of their journey. The first little dassie is too weary to do more than gather some tall grasses from the mountain's lower slopes and bundle them together to make the building materials for a little grass hut.
"Be near and dear, sisters!" she says as she goes inside her little house to sleep.
The remaining sisters push on, until the second cannot go further. She gathers some fallen sticks from the mountainside and fashions a fine little wooden hut--and with a "be near and dear, sister," crawls inside to sleep.
The last little dassie is made of sterner stuff, it seems, and she continues to climb the mountainside until she finds a level spot with many fallen stones all around. From them she shapes a sturdy little stone house.
"WELCOME!" A SQUEAKY VOICE CALLED FROM THE SCREE. IT CAME FROM A HANDSOME SMALL AGAMA MAN.
"NO ONE HAS LIVED HERE FOR A LONG TIME. JUST ME AND A FAMILY OF EAGLES UP ON THE MOUNTAIN."
"EAGLES?" THE THIRD LITTLE DASSIE SHIVERED IN THE HOT SUN.
And well might the third dassie shiver with fear at the little lizard's warning, because, as we might have guessed, the next day brings the eagle down from its nest high on the peak, hungry and on a mission to feed himself and his nestlings on the fine, fat dassies he has seen arrive. He makes straight for the easy pickings inside the flimsy grass hut of the first dassie.
"I SEE YOU, DASSIE!" HE ANNOUNCES.
"I'LL FLAP AND CLAP AND BLOW YOUR HOUSE IN!"
We may not have thought we needed yet another version of the story of the Big Bad Wolf. But after generations of retellings of this timeless tale, in her newest,The 3 Little Dassies (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2010), notable author-illustrator Jan Brett fearlessly takes on this oft-told tale, setting it novelly in Africa's Namibian desert, with three little dassies (hyraxes) playing the traditional pig roles. The dassie lassies are aided and abetted by their new neighbor, a nattily attired agama lizard who is all too eager to give the big bad eagle reason to stay away from his territory.
Within her famous page-frame format and with her signature sidebar vignettes telling the eagle's story in parallel with that of the three sisters, Brett's rendition of the story is fresh and novel, lifted by her detailed depictions of the dassies, dressed in bright print attire and matching headwraps and set against the neutral tones of their desert. "A buoyant and original reimagining," says Publishers Weekly, and so it is.