Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo Willems

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo Willems Book Poster Image
Silly dino twist on Goldilocks tale is roaring good fun.

Parents say

age 17+
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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Kids can compare the standard Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale with this sillier, dinosaur-filled version.

Positive Messages

The book celebrates humor and silliness but also shows "the dangers of barging into strange and enormous houses" and not listening to "anyone or anything," and the wisdom of running away when you realize you're not where you're supposed to be and you could be in danger. The last page states, "And the moral is: If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave."

Positive Role Models & Representations

Goldilocks "was not the type of little girl who listened to anyone or anything," so she recklessly enters the home of the three dinosaurs. But she's smart enough to get out when she realizes her mistake.

Violence & Scariness

Some children may find the dinosaurs (and their intentions toward Goldilocks) mildly alarming.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs: As Retold by Mo Willems twists the traditional fairy tale in fresh and silly ways that should delight both kids and parents reading aloud. Some very young and/or sensitive kids may find the dinosaurs and their intentions a little bit alarming, but for kids who live dinos and fairy tales, the prolific author of Don't Let Pigeon Drive the Bus, Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator!, and many other award-winning picture books has done it again.

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What's the story?

Goldilocks recklessly enters the home of the three dinosaurs, thinking it's the home of the three bears. She goes through two of the three stages of the traditional Goldilocks and the Three Bears fairy tale -- eating out of the residents' bowls (chocolate pudding instead of porridge) and sitting in their chairs (way too tall for bears) -- but realizes her mistake and escapes before trying out their beds.

Is it any good?

It's no surprise that Mo Willems has created another winning picture book, but this one's so funny and clever that it's an exceptional delight. It's ridiculous from the get-go, with not a baby dinosaur rounding out the family of three, as in the bear version, but "some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway." The fun is in Willems' knowing twists on the traditional story, as when he notes that one day, "for no particular reason, the three Dinosaurs ... cooked three bowls of delicious chocolate pudding at varying temperatures."

The art is simple enough for toddlers to enjoy, with sly elements to entertain adults, like a painting of dinos dancing in a circle, modeled after Matisse's painting Dance, a doormat that reads "Wipe Your Talons," and bowls marked "P.D."and "M.D.," for Papa Dinosaur and Mama Dinosaur, and D.f.N." for Dinosaur from Norway.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the difference between this retelling and the traditional Goldilocks story. What makes it funnier?

  • Can you think of other fairy tales that you could change by substituting dinosaurs or some other animal?

  • Why do you think dinosaurs are so popular among preschool kids?

Book details

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For kids who love picture books and fairy tales

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