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Goldilocks and the Three Bears
(Picture Puffin Books) by James
The Great James Marshall Has It Just Right
What a sweet child, says a newcomer in town about Goldilocks. Thats
what you think, a neighbor replies. For Goldilocks is one of those naughty
little girls who does exactly as she pleases--even if that means sampling
the three bears porridge, breaking Baby Bears chair, and sleeping in his
bed. James Marshalls offbeat and inventive telling of this familiar tale will
enchant readers, young and old. A delightfully irreverent retelling of an old
favorite is illustrated with delicious humor and contemporary touches. --
Booklist, starred review
Personal Review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Picture
Puffin Books) by James Marshall
The only qualities shared by James Marshall's Goldilocks and that other
famous eating-stting-and-sleeping girl are their hair color and a very low
tolerance for porridges, chairs, and beds that aren't just right. This
Goldilocks is...well...a brat, "one of those naughty little girls who do exactly
what they please.
Ignoring her mother's directive, as well as several "Roadrunner"-like signs
("Turn Back," "Go The Other Way," "Not a Good Idea), she takes the
forbidden shortcut and happens upon the house of Papa, Mama, and Baby
Marshall's revives this old chestnut with his prank-loving, slightly mean-
spirited heroine. Aside from disobeying her mother, she seems gluttonous,
spoiled, and not overly bright. ALthough pictures of bears hang all over the
walls, and she notices "a lot of coarse brown fur," all she can think is "They
must have kitties." She devours baby Bear's porridge, breaks the chair,
and has the nerve to crawl into Papa's bed after finding the other two
unsuitable. Her rationale is the repeated "I don't mind if I do."
The animals' language accounts for much of the humor. The chair is not
just broken--it's broken to "smithereens!" Papa Bear cries "Patooie!" after
scalding his tongue, and when Baby Bear gets similarly dramatic, Mama
Bear, who represents the happy medium both in size and disposition,
admonishes them "Now really, that's quite enough." While the Bears are
pleasant and dressed in Easter-best clothes, Papa Bear is clearly "not
amused" when he sees his rumpled bed. And what does Papa Bear do
when he catches Goldilocks in bed, her teetch clutching a blue blanket?
Marshall combines a mild message--like that uttered by some proper
English landowner--with an animal delivery: "Now see here!" roared Papa
The bright ink and watercolor illustrations lend humor and flesh out the
story. Emotions are exaggerated as in a silent movie: GOldilocks sticks
out her tongue, fkashes us a sneaky look, and, for contrast, pauses
thoughtfully with her thin straight mouth as she considers her choices.
THe book won a Caldecott honor. Although we can be fairly certain that
Goldilocks won't be "visiting" the bears again, you and your young
audience will return to Marshall's "Goldilocks" whenever a slightly
subversive and slyly humour tale would be just right.
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