The fourth robot-pig: getting creative with “Watch Out for Wolfgang”

Recently while at the library to pick up a few hold items for myself, I gave my three-year-old about 30 seconds to pick up a couple of picture books (I know, top-notch mothering right there), and he was really excited to pick out this one. I was too, even after we read it once, twice, a hundred times.

And even after we discussed the implications THOROUGHLY of what it means to be a robot and be taken apart. (He does NOT like reading about machines that break. It freaks him out in a profound way. This anxiety is increased when the machines have eyes and ears and are friendly characters in a book.) His anxiety about the book translated to an obsession with it and he read it over and over until he loved it. He was excited to show it to his dad, and even more excited to say “and now is the scary part!” (It’s not actually that scary, unless you have a thing about machines being taken apart. Which we do.)

This re-writing of the three little pigs, with three little robots and a robot recycler named Wolfgang, is a great book with awesomely gorgeous illustrations. And the activity I’m going to share with you below was not my idea at all. My son made the whole thing up.

Title: Watch out for Wolfgang
Author/Illustrator: Paul Carrick
Genre: Picture Book, Fairy Tale Retelling
Ages: 3 – 7

Summary and activities to do with the kids:

This is a great book to share with your kids for so many reasons. First, the fact that it’s a retelling of the Three Little Pigs makes it a great way to discuss how the same story can be told in different ways. Even older kids would benefit from making comparisons to the swinier version. The second reason it’s totally awesome is that the third pig (robot) is not a savior because he’s hard-working, he’s a savior because he’s “different”. In a totally great way.

But here’s a fun activity that my son made up: we added a fourth robot.

He first took a flip coloring book with lots of robots in it. He chose the perfect robot for the story. He said that he wanted his robot (Glabby, a boy name in case you weren’t sure) to be like Rod, the first of the three robots in the story. He also said that Glabby’s factory (they build factories instead of houses) was a baking factory, which I secretly thought was brilliant.

Then we read the story and at each page we held up Glabby’s picture next to the illustrations and I made up and read aloud a paragraph about what Glabby was doing. It was so much fun! Glabby, since he was like the first brother, did get recycled by Wolfgang. But since they are all saved in the end by the third robot, Glabby did okay.

But it was so much fun! I would love to hear if any of you try this with your own kids! It doesn’t have to be this book, and it doesn’t have to be a robot, but maybe pick a story your child knows well and see if they can invent a character to add to the story. Have your child invent certain important facts about the character, and then when you read the book, read in their character. My son was so excited and proud of the new story with his inventions in it.

And then let me know. Do you think you will try it? With what book? And if you did try it, how did it turn out?

2 Comments to “The fourth robot-pig: getting creative with “Watch Out for Wolfgang””

  1. My lawyers are drafting up a letter to your three year old son as I type this…

    Just kidding! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with my book, that was very fun for me. I enjoyed my own private experiences during the creation process, but I rarely get to be there on the experiential end… the reason it was made in the first place. It makes the work far more meaningful and purposeful, I appreciate it.

    I felt that writing with robots allowed me to do things that I could not with organic characters, especially at this day and age, even though it may be a bit unsettling or dramatic. Thinking back at my favorite children’s stories, they were also ones charged with something emotional- Charlotte’s web comes to mind. It sounds as if he really is getting something out of it, despite his fear, and his desire to return to it intrigues me quite a bit. His being motivated to expand and interact with the story tickles me- its all more than I could have hoped for.

    Thank you and long live Glabby!

    • Thanks for writing such a great story! I feel that I will always be indebted to the people who write the stories that are so important in my son’s life…and this is definitely one of them. Love your art as well…I had fun perusing your web page.

Please reply -- I love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 704 other followers

%d bloggers like this: