Parents' Guide to

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

By Jan Carr, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 4+

Classic tale given new, thoughtful ending and exquisite art.

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This classic tale featuring a greedy "troll with a heart of stone" is action-packed and lovingly illustrated and brims with emotional resonance. Pinkney's pencil-and-watercolor art makes The Three Billy Goats Gruff a triumph. He excels at drawing animals, making them realistically animal-like and expressive at the same time. The faces of his goats are sweetly appealing, while his troll is suitably scary, a gnarled green creature with fangs, claw-like nails, and a snapping lion's tail. He also pulls out lots of action words -- "SPLASH!" "GULP!" -- to enliven the telling and adds a foldout page to extend the fun when the biggest goat crashes the gate -- "BAM!"

But the real coup is that Pinkney manages to give the story a more thoughtful ending without taking the bite out of it. The goats do triumph, and the troll does get his comeuppance, but he doesn't die or disappear, and the art sagely suggests that the end of the book might actually be a new beginning for the troll and goats. This story, with lots of opportunities for repetition and prediction, preserves the fun of the beloved original while inviting discussions about greed, bullying, and chances to change.

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