A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some sophisticated vocabulary, including "anticipation," "escargot," "strudel," "flambé," "hollandaise," "poached," and more food-related terms.
Sometimes you can escape violence by outwitting the one who's threatening you and tricking him by playing on his fatal flaw -- in this case, greediness.
Positive Role Models
The three billy goats are clever enough to defeat the troll and escape being eaten by him.
Violence & Scariness
The rat-like troll is a bit scary looking. There are skulls and bones floating in the water below the bridge, and a skull and bone dangle from the bridge above the troll's head. The biggest of the three goats rams the troll off the bridge and into the water (though readers don't see the ramming), and the troll falls into the rapids and then down three waterfalls before floating away forever.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Three Billy Goats Gruff is a relatively straightforward retelling of the familiar folktale, with author Mac Barnett's funny additions to the text and illustrator Jon Klassen's distinctive earth-tone art. Lists of the many ways the troll likes to eat goat help make this a lively read-aloud. Says the troll, "I love goat! Let me count the ways. A rump of goat in honey glaze. Goat smoked, goat poached, a goat pot roast. Goat smorgasbord! Goat smeared on toast!" An action-packed ending shows what happens to the troll after the biggest goat rams him off the bridge and into the water. Readers don't see the ramming, but they do see the troll falling into the rapids and then over three waterfalls, each cascade bigger than the previous one.
Is It Any Good?
This fresh, stylized version of the classic folktale adds sly humor and great art to tell the familiar story. Here, the troll looks like a big rat, and he's a bit menacing with his fork and spoon at the ready, but not too scary. His lines of dialogue rhyme -- "Who seeks to reach the grassy ridge? Who dares to walk across my bridge?" But the rest of the text does not. The silliest innovation -- and the most fun for adults reading The Three Billy Goats Gruff aloud -- is the goat listing his favorite goat dishes, as in this passage:
"I love goat! Let me count the ways!/
Goat Benedict with hollandaise./
Goat jerky, jerk goat, curried goat./
Goat gravy in a silver boat./
A goat flambé with candied yams./
A goat clambake, with goat, not clams!
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