Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems is a highly original, hilarious retelling of the traditional tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I remember laughing out loud repeatedly when I read it for the first time. In Willems’s version of the story, Goldilocks, who is “not the type of little girl who listen[s] to anyone or anything,” walks right into a trap set by three hungry (but not very scary) dinosaurs. She nonchalantly explores their strange abode, feasting on chocolate pudding and growing frustrated at the size of the dinosaurs’ furniture. Meanwhile, the reader, who is clued in on the dinosaurs’ plan, anxiously wonders whether Goldilocks will escape before they return home.
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs features Willems’s distinctive illustration style. He uses bold outlines and bright colors, and clearly shows his characters’ emotions by altering their posture, pupil size, and other physical features. Willems includes many humorous details in the illustrations. On one page, for example, a sign reading “.2 miles to trap” has been suspiciously altered to read, “.2 miles to very nice house.” Fans of Willems’s Pigeon books will want to spend a little extra time perusing the illustrations of the dinosaurs’ kitchen. Much of the humor in this book comes from comparing this story to the traditional tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In his retelling, Willems pokes fun at the stranger parts of the old tale. For example, instead of one chair being too hard, another too soft, and the third just right, in Willems’s tale the chairs are too tall, too tall, and…too tall. If children do not know the traditional story, they should hear it before they hear Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Also, Willems’s story ends with a moral for Goldilocks and one for the Dinosaurs. This will be funnier if listeners are familiar with the tradition of morals appearing at the end of stories.
Sharing this book one-on-one will allow readers to notice all the humorous details in the background. It’s also a fun title to read aloud to a group. While preschoolers will enjoy the illustrations and be able to follow the story, older kids will be more likely to grasp the tongue-in-cheek humor. This spring, I enjoyed sharing this book with a group of children ranging from kindergarten to third grade.
Check the WRL catalog for Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs.