Kid 4's eyes widen, his voice softens in wonder, and he asks, with half a grin, "Did you hear that. Mom? He ate the pig. I bet I know what's going to happen next!" He was terribly entertained by this more grisly version. Every page brought that half-scandalized, half-amused face, along with that adorable "I bet I can guess..."
Something has happened (and I am generally for it) to soften our little kids' stories. We feed our kids fairy tales and fables and legends, but the early versions (like Brothers Grimm) are beastly. Witches dance themselves to death in hot iron shoes. Mermaids turn to sea-foam. Princes' eyes are gouged out by rogue brambles. There is wholesale death and destruction on every page.
This is children's literature? These are the stories we read them... before they sleep? I am glad and grateful for the softening of kids' stories. I even prefer the cheesy Disney versions of the classic tales, because they have songs. And we all know how I feel about songs. Yay. Not that I think we have to shelter our kids from all issues. There are things they should feel curious about, and there's no safer place to explore that curiosity than in a book. But. But. I choose to keep them as young as possible for as long as possible. So bring on the gentle books.