The Goldilocks Project: Memorable Retellings

Note: I occasionally accept review copies from the publisher. Posts written from review copies are labeled. All opinions are my own. Posts may contain affiliate links. I may receive compensation for any purchased items.

I’ve found that these retellings are more fun to read, sometimes, than the original. It goes to show that if you want your fairy tale picture book to stand out, you have to do something different to the story.

Stay tuned! Once I’m done talking books, Raisin has a puppet show for you!

Which picture book retellings have I missed? Have you read any of these?

Memorable Retellings

Leola and the Honeybears by Melodye Benson Rosales

Cartwheel, 1999

Leola’s story was my favorite of all the retellings; I think it was one of Raisin’s too. Leola is about his age, and he says he liked her because “I just like her. Leola was cute.” He had a big smile when we finished this book. “I want the chocolate pine nuts!”

Subtitled “An African-American Retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears,” Leola depicts the young child wandering off from her grandma, and though she knows the rules about wandering in the woods and tries to remember her mother’s teachings from time to time, her young age, gives her an excuse: she really didn’t realize she was wandering off. This set up gives the story an innocent feel. The three bears are a family that lives at a small local inn, eating nuts (Lil’ Honey loving his chocolate pine nuts) by the evening fire. It’s truly a wonderful retelling, giving the flat characters from a fairy tale some distinct personalities that make the book a delightful read. I love it!

The 3 Bears and Goldilocks by Margaret Wiley, illustrated by Heather Solomon

Atheneum Books, 2008

Margaret Wiley’s retelling is one I kept thinking of as I pondered this project. In fact, her creative retelling prompted me to consider this project in the first place! Goldilocks is a curious girl, and her father warns her in the beginning to “be careful not to rush headlong into places where you don’t belong.” Of course, when she later goes for a walk in the woods, she comes across a small cabin and her curiousity gets the better of her. When she sees the messy room inside (full of leaves, and berry stems, fish bones, and fur), she helps out by sweeping the floor. When she sees bowls of oatmeal with bugs, bark, grass, and so forth, she picks the uneatable things out and eats the smallest bowl. And the three beds are of pine needles, duck feathers — and then a just right wooly bed!

A note in the beginning of the book indicates that the illustrations are in watercolor, collage, color pencils, acrylic, and oil paint. I love the end result: it is bright and a bit disorganized in a perfect way for the bear’s messy house. Goldilocks and the bears themselves have a memorable look. I liked the emphasis in the story on how bears really live, what they really eat, and what their beds most likely would be made of. Certainly, the story is still a fairy tale, with a didactic message, but even the end has a touch of fairy tale. The bears pity Goldilocks for not having fur, strong teeth, and claws. Goldilocks escapes, determined to better remember her father’s instructions in the future. The mixed media of the illustrations add to the creative and realistic retelling to make this one of my favorite retellings of the story.

Rubia and the Three Osos by Susan Middleton Elya, illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Hyperion Books, 1020

Rubia is a retelling of the story, using interspersed Spanish vocabulary words. The family of bears leaves their sopa (soup) on the table when they go for their walk, and Goldilocks discovers it is caliente and frío, a chair is too suave, and so forth. Raisin didn’t even seem to notice that part of it was in a different language. It seems a nice way to introduce kids to Spanish. Also, the ending is a little different and fun: when Rubia returned home, she made a new pot of soup and took it, with some glue, to the bears’ house. In the end, papa says, “our house is su casa.” It’s a wonderful retelling with lighthearted illustrations. The dual language rhymes are a nice, unique touch.

Goldie and the Three Bears by Diane Stanley

HarperCollins 2007

As the cover suggests, Ms Stanley’s version of the story has an autumn setting. Young Goldie is a picky girl who only likes her peanut butter sandwiches one way, loves to read books every afternoon, and otherwise ostracizes friends by her honesty about her preferences. One day, she gets off the school bus at the wrong stop and comes across a house that has three sandwiches sitting on the table. Maybe it’s needless to say, but only the third is just right. By the end, it turns out that Baby Bear is just a onry and picky as Goldie, and they become friends. I like this retelling for the friendship aspect, that some times it takes a special person to be a friend who is just right. The seasonal illustrations and Goldie’s picky personality also give this a unique feel.

Goldilocks by Ruth Sanderson

Little, Brown, 2009

Although Ms Sanderson’s story begins in a traditional way, the end has a rewarding twist. Goldilocks stays to help make the beds, repair baby bear’s chair, and then, just when she thinks she will be eaten, she suggests her gathered blueberries. The book includes a recipe for the blueberry muffins they make together. We like it for the unique twist at the end, and I do like the realistic illustrations, although they aren’t my favorite.

The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett

Putnam, 2007

Aloo-ki is a young Inuit girl. Her huskie team has floated away from her on an ice flow, and she sees a little igloo with the warm smell of soup. What follows is, of course, her finding what is just right in the house: the smallest bowl of soup, the smallest boots, the snuggliest bed. The bears in this tale are friendly; they bring back the lost huskie dogs. She thanks them for the warm rest and the help, and in the end, she is on her way, waving to her friends the bears. This story is all about the scene, and once again Jan Brett has succeeded in displaying it. The illustrations are beautiful, and it is fun to learn about a different people in a different setting.  I liked the message that in a frozen world, the human found help from the animals, not animosity. They worked together. A distinct retelling.

Raisin’s Retelling

I’m actually doing the telling here because Raisin wouldn’t talk loud enough. He can do it just fine, I promise. I think the video camera made him nervous. But he sure loves watching it!

I realize by posting this that I reveal myself as quite a nerd. But you already knew that, right?

Reviewed on May 9, 2011

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

  • I love “fractured fairy tales” and re-tellings,and I enjoyed reading about some of your finds. I hope you got to read The Fourth Bear that you mentioned in your previous post from March. I keep wishing Fforde would write another book in that series. As far as series go, I have also liked the Grimm Sisters series for older kids by Michael Buckley.

    Happy reading!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}