As you know, we, here on Making Them Readers, love a traditional fairy tale. We particularly love them when they get a contemporary update. We also love Lauren Child. Imagine how delighted we were to find that Child had done her own version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
Did it work for us?
Well, firstly, the text is fairly traditional. There is none of the usual Lauren Child swirly fonts and childlike language. It is much more staid, and sticks pretty closely to the original tale in both style and content. The redeeming feature was the odd meta comment on the text, where Child, points out gleefully what readers down the years have all been thinking about the odious nature of Goldilocks, and her wilful blindness to her own behaviour. There is just the odd line here and there, but it’s enough to prick some of the pomposity and ridiculousness of the original story.
Secondly the illustrations are not what we have come to expect from Child either. There is none of the collaged and hand drawn charm of her Clarice Bean and Charlie and Lola work. Here, she has collaborated with photographer Polly Borland, and set creator Emily Jenkins to come up with something rather disturbing.
The illustrations are photographs of an incredibly creepy faced Goldilocks doll in faux woodland settings that look like shrunk down film sets, and give the whole thing an oddly Gothic, macabre quality, enhanced by the fierceness of Daddy Bear with his gigantic fangs, and denim Hells Angel style waistcoat.
It took us a while to settle into the rhythm of this book, mainly because the pictures are really eerie, but after a while we agreed that we rather liked them, and there is some wonderful humour in the pictures, particularly the ones towards the end of the book when the bears come home to find out what Goldilocks has done.
This is rather a long re-telling of the story, and is very wordy. If you add that to the surreal illustrations it is a book I would definitely recommend for older readers, aged six to eight, although if you’re anything like as creepy as I was when I was a child you’ll probably love this AND it will give you nightmares. I really enjoyed the fact that it harks back to an older, fiercer type of traditional story telling in which it was alright to be scary, because sometimes life is scary, and things get a bit anarchic. That works as long as it all works out fine in the end, and of course, it does.