Willems, Mo. 2012. Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs. Ill. by Mo Willems. New York: Harper Collins Publishers. ISBN 9780062104182
Get ready to laugh your head off as you read Mo Willem’s reimagining of the classic “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” story. In this version, the reader gets acquainted with three dinosaurs, Mama Dinosaur, Papa Dinosaur, and the unforgettable Dinosaur “that happened to be visiting from Norway.” As the three dinosaurs prepare their home with three bowls of porridge pudding, three chairs, and three beds that are “just right,” the dinosaurs leave the house for “someplace else” hoping that “no innocent little succulent children happens by their unlocked home.” As the dinosaurs slyly look on, Goldilocks (none other than Knuffle Bunny’s Trixie) traipses into a strange house and eats all of the chocolate pudding. After realizing that all of the chairs are too tall for her to sit on, Goldilocks wises up and takes a long(er than usual) moment to stop and think. Just in the nick of time, she realizes that she is the dangerous home of dinosaurs, not bears! Luckily for her, the dinosaurs foolishly left the back door unlocked, so Goldilocks is able to escape and realize a happy ending.
By using irony and wit throughout, Willems builds a humorous, complex text that will keep children on the edge of their seats and expand their vocabulary at the same time. Words like “succulent,” “unsuspecting,” “traipsing,” “barging,” “groggy,” “gloating,” and “coincidentally” will force children to make contextual sense of these words as they work to make sense of the story.
Not only does Willems use humor in his text but also in his illustrations. For example, as Papa dinosaur is preparing the chocolate pudding, a dinosaur with two human feet sticking out can be seen in the picture on the refrigerator! Also, the original sign on Goldilocks’s path reads “.2 miles to trap!” Children will have a blast discovering these colorful hidden treasures as they learn to make predictions about what may happen next.
No weaknesses can be found in this Willems hit as the dramatic text, the cleanly drawn illustrations, and the incredibly well executed humorous come together to form this crowd-pleasing hit. As Booklist points out, “Willems has delivered his very best work so far this is a tasty treat for kids already fluent with the original, and for any fan of funny, and everybody will want to read it again and again and again (2012).”
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs has received many nominations and awards since it was published in 2012. Some of these include Publisher’s Weekly Best Books of 2012, School Library Journal Best Books of the year in 2012, Beehive Children’s Picture Book award in 2013, American Library Association Notable books for Children in 2012, and Colorado Children’s book award in 2014.
Because the classic tale of Goldilocks and The Three Bears is familiar to almost all children, this Mo Willem re-imagining allows children to use analytical skills to compare and contrast the old with the new and make predictions about what will happen next in the story. This also allows librarians to cultivate rich conversations during storytime or any other literacy event in the library. Librarians could, for example, empower children to create their own version of this tale in a beginning, middle, end booklet (shown below). Example titles are available both on the inside front and back cover if children need inspiration to get the writing process started.
Books in Print. Texas Woman’s University Library. Accessed September 7, 2013.