The Three Billy Goats Gruff -- The FULL Story

Book review by
Regan McMahon, Common Sense Media
The Three Billy Goats Gruff -- The FULL Story Book Poster Image
Dynamic art, clever text make for fun update of classic.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Readers can compare this version of the classic Norweigian fairy tale with other verions they've read or heard. There's some fun, advanced vocabulary, including bilious, miniscule, modicum, middling, hunkers, typhoon.

Positive Messages

You don't have to be as big as your foe to outsmart him and beat him at his own game. Everyone loves a good story.

Positive Role Models

The Brothers Gruff are brave to stand up to the bullying troll and smart to figure out ways to get past him. They seem a little greedy, as they envy their cousins' abundant grass supply on their side of the bridge, having eaten up all the grass in their own territory.

Violence & Scariness

Big Billy Goat Gruff bends his head down and used his two long horns to boot Troll sky-high, in order to get across the bridge safely. Troll threates to eat the Gruff Brothers when they're on the bridge.


Big Billy calls Troll "bully boy."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Three Billy Goats Gruff -- The FULL Story, by Richard Jackson and illustrated by Katherine Tillotson, offers a slight twist on the classic fairy tale of three goats cossing a bridge controlled by a mean troll. This version adds the Gruff Brothers' goat cousins on the other side of the bridge, who get to hear each of the Gruffs' dramatic retellings of their crossings, and the troll is portrayed as a giant red monster with spiky horns and claws. With dynamic art and catchy text filled with fun language, this is a great read-aloud for kids. 

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What's the story?

In THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF-- THE FULL STORY, thre Goats -- Big Billy Goat, Middle Billy Goat, and Little Billy Goat -- decide to cross a rickety wooden bride to eat grass on the other side, even though getting there means getting past the mean, hungry red monster of a troll who lives under the bridge. They all manage to outsmart Troll, and the final one, Big Billy, "boots Troll sky-high into the air" using his two big horns. After that, the brothers Gruff, one by one, tell the Cousins Gruff on the other side of the bridge their versions of what happened in their daring adventure.

Is it any good?

This lively retelling of the classic fairy tale adds goat cousins and portrays the troll as a monster with lots of kid-appeal, but keeps the tension and repetition for a great read-aloud. Changes in perspective help Katherie Tillotson's captivating characters jump out at the reader and add to the drama and momentum of the story. And Richard Jackson's clever, playful text will keep kids engaged at every step.

The final swerve into the goats telling their own versions of their Trolll encounters to their cousins is a little puzzling, but true to human experience: Everyone enjoys recounting a story of bravery in which they get to be the hero.  

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this version of the classic fairy tale in The Three Billy Goats Gruff -- The FULL Story. How is it different from versions you've heard before? What parts are the same? Is the trol how you pictured him? 

  • What do you think of the art? How did the artist make the scary parts scary and the happy parts happy? Which picture is your favorite? 

  • How do you like the repeated words in the story? Like the "trip-trap" and "tap-tap-tapping" of the goat's hooves and Troll's "mutt-muttering"? What's fun about playing with words?  

Book details

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For kids who love picture books and fairy tales

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