Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Sorry, Gotta Run!: Goldilocks and the Three Bears, by Caralyn and Mark Buehner

In a jolly little log cabin in the leafy woods, a bow-tied Papa Bear, a be-aproned Mama Bear, and Wee Little Bear dig into their steaming bowls of porridge, hungry as, well, bears. Papa finds his too hot, Mama likewise, and Wee Little Bear seems to mumble through his scalded lips, "My porch has a bus light, too." Off they go for the requisite stroll while their breakfast cools.

Enter the blonde scofflaw, complete with cowboy boots and a whirling jump rope, who skips into the cottage and tries out the seating arrangement as a jump rope gym:

Big chair, middle chair, little chair, too,
Somebody's here to bounce on you....
This chair has no bounce at all,
This chair makes me feel so small.
But this chair looks like it's just right.
I'll bounce me up an appetite!
When inevitably the wee chair collapses under her, Goldilocks shrugs it off with a cavalier "Oopsy-daisy, what a mess/Bounced a bit too much, I guess!"

After working up an appetite, Goldi makes short work of the bowls of cereal and looks about for a place to take an apres-porridge nap.

Goodness, I'm a sleepyhead!
I think I'll jump right into bed.

As Goldilocks sleeps in her chosen spot, the even hungrier and grumpier bears return to find their porridge purloined, their seating dis-assembled, and their mattresses mussed. Wee Little Bear wonders if they've been invaded by a wild beast, a monster, or an alien, until the three spy Goldi snoozing deeply in Wee Bear's bed. As they peer at her in alarm, she awakes with an "EEEEKKK!" and a couplet:
Pardon me if I don't stay...
Don't feel like jumping anyway!

While Mama Bear is too upset by the intrepid intruder to eat a bite of breakfast, Papa and Wee Little Bear tuck into their fresh oatmeal and "this time it was just right!"

If your preschooler doesn't own a copy of this famous cautionary tale on the temptations of trespass, this is the one to choose. (For one thing, in this version, Mama Bear's initial porridge is too hot, not too cold. It always seemed a violation of the law of thermodynamics that the big bowl and the little bowl were still too hot, but the middle-sized bowl was already cold! What's with that?)

As a first introduction to this story, Buehner's retelling has the virtue of sticking to the traditional folk plot faithfully while refreshing the dialog with simple but charming rhymes. The parent bears' lines are suitably stodgy, Goldilocks' lines are saucily insouciant, and Wee Bear's lines are creatively clueless: "A wild beast? A Monster? An Alien?" The drawings by Mark Buehner are jolly and clever and feature details that will delight kids from age two up. For example, as in other books by Buehner, a cat, a rabbit, and a Tyrannosaurus Rex are hidden in each illustration. Additionally, the drawings include "beary many" bear-related bric-a-brac in the background of the bears' cottage which are fun to spot even when Mom and Dad aren't around to read the story aloud.

For older readers, who like their tales a bit on the spoofy side, James Marshall's Goldilocks and the Three Bears is just right, featuring a bratty Goldie who gets humorously taken down a peg by some appropriately righteous bears.

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