Props: Wolf Hat (or similar), Pig Ears (or something like that), Fake Bricks, Pre-cut Stick, Martial Arts Clothes (or even a plain bathrobe would be funny)
Audience: K-2 (also works for Preschool, just not quite as well)
Even before I saw the book, I knew just from the title that there would have to be something fun we could do with The Three Ninja Pigs. We decided to try it for our K-2 Book Adventures "Heroes and Villains" program. It's a clever re-telling of "The Three Pigs," where each pig learns a martial art, but the first two don't stick with their training. The third one's a girl and a good student, and she saves the day.
For our three-person telling we decided to go with one person (Teri) as all three pigs. Sheila was the Wolf and since the text rhymes and we wanted to get that just right, I was narrator. We usually don't mind half-memorizing and acting out with a script, but Terri couldn't do that this time: she had to have her hands free for Ninja moves. The illustrations are also excellent, and give the kids a more tangible sense of what the book is all about, so we selected some of those and projected them as the story progressed. We also threw in a bit of the martial arts terminlogy as visuals, and added word balloons for most of the dialogue. For the script we trimmed a stanza or two just to fit our time slot.
With that in place, the story plays out pretty smoothly. Terri borrowed an authentic Taekwondo Ki to wear from a co-worker. She even learned an authentic move or two, but in the end she went for comical effect, and it was definitely funny. I'm pretty sure "the cartwheel, the crescent, the crane" don't go quite the way she did them.
Pigs one and two battled Wolf briefly. We projected a scan from the book, then clicked to add word balloons for their lines. Then Pig Three demonstrated her skills. Terri broke a stick (pre-broken ) and shattering bricks (cardboard ones, but still visually impressive). This scares Wolf and he leaves without even coming to blows ("I love to eat ham / But I think I should scram / before she makes mincemeat of me").
We'll probably use this for Family Storytime as well, but K-2 is really the perfect audience, since they get most of the jokes, like when Pig Three performs a "perfect Pork Chop." Younger kids will still get the heart of the story, though, and will love the silly action.