As you read the reviews on Bookshop Talk, you'll notice that every review is positive. No, we're not a bunch of literary
pushovers who love everything we pick up; we just see no point in telling you about a book if we didn't like it.

May 21, 2013

Spinning the Goldilocks Tale: Four Picture Books

Reviewed by Laura Madsen, mom & writer

My daughter’s kindergarten class has a parent read every week for “Fairy Tale Friday.” My assigned fairy tale is Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You all know the story: clueless and poorly supervised little girl invades the home of the innocent bears, eats their food, and breaks their stuff. I didn’t want to read the boring basic version but found some entertaining alternatives.

GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE BEARS by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner, 2007. 

This is a relatively standard Goldilocks tale, but with some entertaining twists. The baby bear is inordinately worried about the intruder: “Something has eaten my porridge. I think it was an alien!” And Mark Buehner’s illustrations have many hidden images for kids to find.

THE THREE SNOW BEARS by Jan Brett, 2007 

This also follows the Goldilocks story fairly closely, but places it in a beautifully illustrated arctic setting. Aloo-ki, an Inuit girl, loses her team of sled dogs on the pack ice. She comes across an igloo and enters to find three bowls of soup, three pairs of furry boots, and three sets of sleeping furs. The three bears are a family of polar bears, and as the girl is busy messing up their igloo, they are shown (in small sidebar illustrations) to be rescuing the girl’s huskies. Jan Brett’s paintings are detailed and gorgeous, and feature a variety of arctic wildlife like fox, caribou and walrus.

GOLDILOCKS AND JUST ONE BEAR by Leigh Hodgkinson, 2011

This book turns the fairy tale upside-down, as a bear is lost in the city and takes refuge in a penthouse apartment. The illustrations are hilarious: “This porridge is too soggy” shows the bear drinking water from a goldfish bowl, and “This chair is too ouchy” shows the bear sitting on a potted cactus. The twist ending is that the mommy person and the bear are Goldilocks and Baby Bear, all grown-up and feeling regretful about their previous encounter.

This is a hysterically twisted version of Goldie’s tale. Three dinosaurs (Papa Dino, Mama Dino, and some random triceratops visiting from Norway) set up a trap, intending to have “chocolate-filled-little-girl-bonbons” for dessert. I always found Goldilocks very dumb, and Willems makes fun of her dumbness as she narrowly escapes being eaten. “Goldilocks was not the type of little girl who listened to anyone or anything. For example, Goldilocks never listened to warnings about the dangers of barging into strange, enormous houses. So as soon as Goldilocks came across a strange, enormous house, she barged right in.”

What are YOUR favorite fairy tale picture books?

As an exciting side note, our regular contributor, Laura Madsen, has recently published a children's fantasy novel of her own. So be sure to check out The Corgi Chronicles. Laura is also a veterinarian, so her insight on animals is better than the usual writer, which makes for a fun read. Congratulations, Laura!


Anonymous said...

My kids giggled nonstop when we read Goldi and the Three Dinos, even though they're really too old for picture books now (7 and 9). I love picture books so we'll keep getting them from the library even when they're teenagers!

And thanks for the plug for my book!

Anonymous said...

I love anything by Mo Willems, so I definitely have to get a copy of GOLDILOCKS AND THE THREE DINOSAURS!

My favorite fairy tale picture books are FALLING FOR RAPUNZEL, PRINCESS HYACINTH (not really a fairy tale, but the princessy-ness counts, right?), and THE PRINCESS AND THE PIG, which combines ideas from several fairy tales into a new and unique (and hilarious) story.

Thanks so much for these reviews, Laura. And your Corgi Chronicles novel looks wonderful!

Amy Finnegan {} said...

I think just about every fairy or princess tale falls into the fairytale category, even if it isn't based on a classic. So I'll say that some of my fav fairytale picture books are Alice the Fairy by David Shannon, and definitely The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. Those stories never get old around my house!

Julie said...

I loved this article! And that corgi on the cover of Laura Madsen's book is fabulous.