Both Ham (19 mos) and Nica (4) love the Melissa & Doug Deluxe Three Little Pigs Play Set. (I actually got this toy using Huggies Enjoy the Ride rewards points. If that offer still exists, this is a great item to get.)
The three houses are made of soft material (some kind of felt), and the pigs and wolf are made of plastic. This playset makes an ideal travel toy, since you can just smush the houses into a bag.
I sent away for this toy when Ham was a wee infant, so it was Nica who played with it first. I had just introduced her to the story of the three little pigs, using this book:
I’m not crazy about the art or the overall look of the book, but the story stays true to the original—or, at least, the version I know (pigs set out on their own; dumbest, laziest pig builds a straw house, the next one a stick house, then the engineer/architect/brainiac brother builds a brick house with working fireplace; wolf is able to blow down the first two houses but not the third; he tries to go down the chimney, but the pigs have already built a fire, which scorches the wolf, who runs away; we are left to assume that the first two pigs will now move in with the smart one and sponge off him—or maybe he’ll build an addition, but three brothers living together? Good luck finding dates, fellas).
Ham has been enjoying this playset ever since he got big enough to hold stuff and sit up on his own. He doesn’t understand the whole story, of course, but he does get that the pigs go into the houses and the wolf blows them down, which he finds hilarious. And when we go somewhere, he’ll want to take either the wolf or Pig No. 2 with him.
One day, we drove into Manhattan and spent the day in Central Park. Pig No. 2 came with us. When Ham got tired and cranky, I put him in his stroller and gave him the pig to hold, which appeased him.
That’s the last time we saw Pig No. 2. We didn’t realize we’d lost him until days later, when Nica needed him for a pretend game.
We miss Pig No. 2. Ham hasn’t taken to Pig No. 1 or No. 3 the way he did to 2, for some reason. So, now he only has the wolf to hold.
Needless to say, Nica misses No. 2 when she wants to reenact the Three Little Pigs story. It just isn’t the same with substitutes.
I asked Nica what she thought happened to Pig No. 2. To my surprise, she had an answer ready.
“He fell out of Ham’s stroller, because Ham WAS NOT CAREFUL and DROPPED HIM. He rolled and rolled away from us. He was scared at first, because Central Park is very, very big and he couldn’t see us anymore. He probably cried a little bit.”
“No, Mommy, don’t be sad. A friendly dog carried him in his mouth without hurting him. He took Pig No. 2 to the road, and someone opened their car door and took him. A nice little girl.”
“Oh, so he’s not in the park anymore?”
“No. Someone’s playing with him in the car.”
“He lives in a car now?”
“Yeah. Let’s call that car a car-house!”
I gotta say, I’m saddened by the thought that Pig No. 2 is living in a car now. Oh, fickle finger of fate!