CM . . . .
Volume VII Number 17 . . . . April 27, 2001
Goldilocks pushed the door open, just a crack. Nothing happened. She pushed a little further. Not a sound. "Should I or shouldn't I?" Goldilocks asked herself. Then, because should sounds better than shouldn't, she pushed the door all the way open and went inside."Goldilocks and the Three Bears" is one of three retellings in the second book in the "Once-Upon-A-Time" series, Three Tales of Three. The other stories are "The Three Billy Goats Gruff" and "The Three Little Pigs." Helmer's retelling of each tale differs somewhat from the most well-known versions of each classic story.
For example, in "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," Papa Bear prepares the morning meal of oatmeal-raisin porridge. As in other versions, Goldilocks enters the abandoned cottage once the Bears leave to allow their porridge to cool. She consumes Baby Bear's porridge, breaks Baby Bear's chair, and sleeps in Baby Bear's bed. When the Bears return from their morning constitutional, they examine their porridge, furniture and beds. Once Goldilocks is discovered in Baby Bear's bed, she escapes through a window. Papa Bear proceeds to make more porridge, Mama Bear fixes the broken chair, and Baby Bear smooths out the beds.
Similar to the traditional story of the "Three Billy Goats Gruff," Helmer's retelling includes the three Billy Goats crossing a bridge to get to the grass on the other side. The noise made by each Billy Goat Gruff as it crosses the bridge differs from other retellings. The little Billy Goat Gruff goes "trippity-skip," the middle Billy Goat Gruff goes "trampity-stamp," and the big Billy Goat Gruff goes "clompity-stomp." The big Billy Goat Gruff knocks the wicked old troll into the river, and the creature is never heard from again.
Like other renditions of "The Three Little Pigs," the big Bad Wolf huffs and puffs and destroys the straw and stick houses constructed by the first and second Pig respectively. Unfortunately for the two little porkers, the Wolf swallows each brother with a "gobble, gobble, gulp, gulp." However, no amount of huffing and puffing by the Wolf will blow down the brick house built by the third Pig. Helmer's retelling differs from other versions of the tale by how the Wolf tries to trick the Pig on three different occasions, and by how the Pig rids the world of the Bad Wolf.
It appears that one of the purposes of the "Once-Upon-A-Time" series is to collect stories with similar topics, characters or motifs (the first book is called Three Prince Charming Tales). However, although somewhat different, the retellings in Helmer's book are not parodied, fractured or novel renditions of the well-known versions of the stories. Hence interest level was minimal for this reader.
Jackson's cartoon-like illustrations are rendered in ink and watercolour. Although the illustration style is appropriate for the book, the illustrations do not extend the stories. The title page, front matter, and table of contents have illustrations of the characters in the three tales. An interesting feature of the book is the placement of three appropriate items at the top of each page: the first story has three spoons of varying sizes, the second story has three bells of varying sizes, and the third story has a piece of straw, a stick, and three bricks.
Sylvia Pantaleo is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education, Queen's University Kingston, ON.
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