Mark Teague

Mark Teague has a soft heart for young readers—and for big, bad wolves. The author illustrator had a crowd of children giggling at the Spencer Road Branch of the St. Charles City-County Library on May 7 when he read from his book, “The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Big Bad Wolf,” published by Scholastic.

“I personally have always liked the wolf,” Teague said in an interview before the presentation. In actuality, the snarling, snapping villain might not be as mean as he seems. “Maybe he’s just in a bad mood because he’s hungry,” Teague added.

Bearing that in mind, Teague provides his “Somewhat Big Bad Wolf” with some tasty treats provided by his new piggy friends—Bob’s Potato Chips by the truckload and sody-pop, a catchy colloquial Teague adopted from his Alabama dad. The snacks don’t come immediately. The wolf first has to fail to fell the house of bricks, which leaves him prostrate on the third little pig’s front lawn.

There’s plenty of the traditional huffing and puffing in Teague’s rendition of the children’s classic, but the wolf’s hot air gets an update at the brick house where the wolf “huff-huff-puffed and puff-huff-huffed and huffy-huffy-puff-huffed,” phrases that brought more laughs from his young audience.

“I like to play with words,” Teague said, explaining his newest book “evolved.” It actually had its start years ago when he read and told his young daughters the story at bedtime. Teague “changed the story around,” twisted it like a pig’s tail.

The end result is another picture book to add to Teague’s ever-growing contribution to children’s literature, more than 40 books he’s illustrated, like the “How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight” series by Jane Yolen, and other picture books he’s both written and illustrated like the “Dear Mrs. LaRue” series, featuring an endearing spotted terrier most kids know by name.

Young readers of all ages can expect more from Teague. He’s illustrating a picture book for another author and is immersed in a graphic novel for young adults he’s both writing and illustrating.

It just might capture the interest of teens who cut their teeth on Teague’s picture books when they were little guys. That’s as sure a bet as a pig having hair on his chinny-chin-chin.

Students in The Missourian’s readership will be able to find “The Three Little Pigs and the Somewhat Big Bad Wolf,” on their school library shelves—the book has been chosen as the Youngest Book Buzz Pick for the “Kooky Animals” August theme.