A few months ago, I was hired by iStorybooks to rewrite the old, public domain version of The Three Little Pigs. I modified Andrew Lang's story of The Three Pigs from The Green Fairy Book. As usual with retellings, my assignment was to make it suitable for children (2 sentences or so per page, appropriate vocabulary) without changing too much from the original tale.
In Lang's version, the pigs are Browny, Whitey, and Blackey. The pigs were distinctly different colors (although pigs/sows/hogs naturally are), and all boys. I didn't think that was very appealing. So I changed the story so that the pigs all became pink (you can see the illustrations) - one color. But I did keep the name Brownie for one pig, because he liked to play in mud (the one who built his house of mud and straw). Hence, he is always the color of mud in my text. I wanted at least one character to be a girl, so I made the middle one (who, in the original tale, is very greedy and actually built her house of cabbage) a girl and named her Pinky (perhaps that's a gender stereotype?). I didn't take out the fact that she was very greedy. I named the wisest pig Max. He has no color reference whatsoever (I kept the names Blackey and Whitey out of the story).
Obviously, I considered my retelling to be much cleaner and sillier than the original. And, I had nothing to do with the illustrations, but you'll see that all pigs are the same color (pink). Brownie is just usually covered in mud.
Is my retelling racist as the anonymous comment accuses? Obviously, I didn't write it that way (hello...we are a brown, black, and pink family...)? Or, is the original story racist (even though Blackey is the wise pig)? What do you think? Is the original story or my retelling sending bad messages to children? Or does the overall message of hard work, planning, and sharing prevail?
So far, I've gotten nothing but good reviews and comments on the book. But I am curious to know what others think about the reader's post that the book is "overtly" racist!