Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

Title: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs
Author/Illustrator: Mo Willems
Published: Balzer & Bray (HarperCollins), 2012

 

When I was three, my grandma bought me a book called “Goldilocks.” It was the classic tale, but with TOTALLY late-seventies-early-eighties-style art. It was the art that won my little heart (it was so chunky and cute), but the story was exceptionally lacklustre. Like, picture your uncle who doesn’t really like children telling you a story just to get it over with. Like that. No pizzazz! No flowery language. Just the facts.

In short, it was boring.

Thankfully, my kiddos have Mo Willems’ Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs to entertain them. Now, you’re all well aware of my incredible admiration/fandom when it comes to Mr. Willems. I think he’s brilliant. His work is exceptional and he understands what kids find funny in a way very few others do.

This book does not disappoint.

The art is, as per usual, hilarious. The thing Mo Willems does best, IMHO, is expressions. His characters aren’t overly complicated, in terms of “could I draw something that looks approximately like that dinosaur? Yes!” but the expressiveness is off the charts. In no universe can I make a dinosaur look that devious.

Aside from the fabulous pictures, the story is laugh-out-loud funny. It starts when you first open the book. On the inside back of the cover and first page (and on the back of the last page and inside back cover), there are other ‘possible’ titles for the book, all crossed out. Personal favourites include: Goldilocks and the Three Rocket Scientists, Goldilocks and the Three Foot-Long Hoagies and Goldilocks and the Three Major Networks.

Not gonna lie, I’d read those.

Anyway, the story is based on the original, of course, but it’s also a bit different. First, instead of bears, there are dinosaurs. Next, instead of porridge, there’s chocolate pudding. And instead of breaking Baby Bear’s chair, Goldilocks just refuses to climb up the insanely high dino chairs.

The funniest bits:

  • The dinosaurs purposely went for a walk and left their pudding in the kitchen with a handily-placed ladder, so any small wandering children might climb up and help themselves. Why? Because dinos love delicious chocolate-filled-little-girl-bonbons.
  • The dinosaur from Norway is awesome.
  • The whole sequence with the chairs is really well written.
  • The ending is super. More about that in a sec.
  • Throughout the story, there are hilarious side notes about the dinosaurs’ exclamations as they’re supposed to be hidden. Like when Mama Dino yells loudly and then Mo suggests “But that could have been a rock falling. Or a squirrel.”

As in the original, Goldilocks ends up in the bedroom. Unlike the original, in this book she realizes something: the furniture in the house is gigantic. And the sign on the wall suggests that perhaps the home does not belong to bears.

Goldilocks puts the pieces together at the last possible moment and escapes.

The dinosaurs return from their walk and they find that Goldilocks has dashed out the back door. Which was accidentally left unlocked.

Whoops.

The moral of the story for Goldilocks is: If you find yourself in the wrong story, leave.

And for the dinosaurs? Lock the back door! (I love the disapproving look Mama Dinosaur is giving the two others. She’s holding the key like, “Seriously. You guys had ONE JOB.”)

Mama’s Review: 10/10
Lily’s Review: “I like the part where they are in the forest, trying to hide. I could totally see them.”

Please, Mr. Panda

 

Title: Please, Mr. Panda
Author/Illustrator: Steve Antony
Published: Scholastic, 2014

 

Have you ever picked up a book and been totally surprised by a wonderful plot twist that you just DID NOT see coming? That was Please, Mr. Panda for me. We chose it in December’s Scholastic book order because the art was super-cute. And, full disclosure, it came with a squishy donut. And OMG, squishy everything is the best around here.

Ahem. Anyway, the book was delightfully surprising because of…wait for it…a lemur!

If you’ve been following along, you know that lemurs are kinda THE animal here at Chez Borst (OK, lemurs AND cats). Vivi has been obsessed with these adorable little primates since she was an adorable tiny primate herself.

The book Please, Mr. Panda tells the tale of the very polite Mr. Panda offering donuts to various black-and-white animals. (I really liked this choice, art-wise. It’s clever and neat to look at.) The animals he offers donuts to are not exactly…nice.

The penguin is all “Yeah, gimme some!”

The ostrich is all “OMG, go away!”

The skunk is all “Yeah, I’ll eat some donuts!”

The whale is all “I want all of them!”

(I’m seriously precising here.)

And Mr. Panda, being the polite fellow he is, decides that none of them asks kindly enough. So he keeps his donuts…until…

a lemur shows up!

The lemur is exceedingly polite! Mr. Panda realizes he’s found the recipient of his dozen donuts. The lemur happily chows down and Mr. Panda happily walks away. Turns out, he doesn’t like donuts anyway.

The book is so simple, but so sweet. We all FREAKED out when the lemur turned up. (And got a kick out of the fact that he was upside-down…hey, we don’t get out much. What can I say?)

If you’re looking for a great book about manners, kindness and…well…lemurs…then this is the one for you! Also: A++ for the art.

Vivi’s rating: I really liked the part where the lemur got everything. Will there be more lemurs in the future books? I certainly hope so. (We ordered some more Mr. Panda books from Scholastic. They are probably coming in sometime near the end of this month. Along with a *few* other books. Vivi’s poor teacher is getting some serious biceps from carrying our book orders out to us. We love, you, Ms. R!) 

Lily’s rating: Well, I just loved it. That’s all I have to say.

Yup. It’s a winner.

 

 

 

Welcome to…Strange Street?

 

Title: Strange St.
Author/Illustrator: Ann Powell
Published: Kids Can Press, 1975

Know what I love? A good picture book. I love a picture book that you start to read and then you THINK you know the ending, but you really have no idea. I love a picture book with a strong story and a clever hook. I really do enjoy MOST picture books that publishers are publishing these days.

But there was a time, back in the dark ages called the ‘seventies’ that picture books weren’t as…er…let’s say ‘vetted by the publisher’ as they are now. (Read: a lot of questionable/crappy stuff was published.)

One thing I’ve mentioned in passing is that I have two collections of kid lit: my big, huge collection of awesomeness and my smaller (but perhaps more entertaining in some ways) collection of crappiness. Today, we shall delve into collection 2!
This book is called Strange St. and the premise is very simple: Sam lives on a weird street. No, really. Everyone on the street isn’t ‘normal’ in some way.

This premise bugs me for three reasons:

1. IRL, no one is normal. Nothing is normal. Every street is a bit strange. Seriously.

2. I HATE stories that force the whole “OMG, you’re so WEEEEIRD” thing. It’s painful to read about and it makes no sense to me. Who cares if you’re weird? Embrace that, yo! It’s what makes you special.

3. The ‘OMG, so WEEEIRD’ thing feels like it’s being used in place of, you know, telling a story. This is a series of sentences put together in book form. It’s not a cohesive whole. No one learns anything except that “Strange St. isn’t so strange after all!” Blargh. No.

So. Let’s list the ‘strange’ things in this book, according to the author:

1. Sam’s mom is a lady wrestler. His dad is a part-time chef, part-time dad. I guess that’s a bit risqué, seeing as this WAS published in 1975. In the illustration, they’re depicted as reading books about Greek wrestling and Welsh cooking. OMG, mind-blowing.

2. Aged Mr. Grumby has 9 cats. Aside from that being a health code violation, I guess it’s OK? Also, his million-year-old girlfriend resides with him. And…they’re not married, I suppose? Scandalous?

3. Camille and Joseph run the corner store and they have a baby girl named Charlotte. Literally nothing here is weird at all. These people are just living their best life, Sam.

4. This kid, Stephen, lives across from Sam’s house. He thinks there are tigers under his bed. Whatever helps you sleep at night, bud.

5. Mrs. Lawrence is 65 (but looks 95 in the picture) and likes to ski. Elizabeth is teaching Sam how to knit. Are Mrs. Lawrence and Elizabeth somehow related? Unclear. And, once more, nothing about them is weird.

6. Mark and Sarah grow basement mushrooms. OK, so they’re drug dealers. Janet has a ‘jungle’ growing in her house, so probably weed. Sam, it’s the seventies. Get with the times, kiddo.

7. Sam has a girl BFF called Patti. She likes hockey and cars but lives on Bright street which is a place that is 100% not for girls having those interests, so Patti chills on Sam’s street. Patti is a total sport-o and I have absolutely no interest in her storyline. You do you, Patti.

8. Sam is a BOY and plays with dolls. Was this even news in 1975?

9. Sam heads over to see Patti on Bright Street. It’s a total misnomer, because NO ONE IS NICE THERE. There’s even a creepy old neighbour who peers out behind his curtains. But who is he? Patti doesn’t know. She doesn’t know ANYONE on her street.

10. Sam goes into Patti’s house and then her mom is all “Oh, I’ve heard a lot about you, Sam.” Which…what? They’re BFFs. Patti has played numerous times at Sam’s house. Wouldn’t you know him by now? I mean, I get that the seventies involved moms basically saying “Get outta my house and come back by dinner and don’t get hurt or anything. Mama’s having her 10 AM cocktail.” But still.

11. Sam is all “I can help make lunch” and Patti’s mom is all “OMG, NO! Boys don’t cook!” They also don’t do dishes. Or play with dolls. Or cry. This book is killing me, you guys.

12. Sam was all judgmental about lunch. It was Kraft Dinner, Coke and a chocolate pudding cup. He didn’t like it. Look, where I’m from that’s called ‘gourmet.’ Stop being such a stuck up jerk, Sam. Manners, man.

13. Anyhoots, after Sam falls off Patti’s bike and is told not to cry, (by Patti’s mom, the original helicopter parent) he busts a move back to Strange St. He heads over to see his pals, Mark and Sarah, the drug dealers. They’re all “Sam, is your knee OK? Boys totally CAN cry if they’re hurt!” (Also, side note: Sarah and Mark literally look like twins in this story. I cannot decipher which is which.)

14. Then Sam sees Stephen, who is disembowelling his dolls to feed to his fake tiger. And Sam’s all “Boys don’t play with dolls!” and Stephen is all “Yeah they do! When it’s feeding time!” And Stephen is gonna be that kid you sort of avoid in high school.

15. Sam pops into Mrs. Lawrence’s on the way home. She’s making cookies and enlists Sam’s help, after reassuring him that boys CAN cook. (DUH…his dad is a part-time chef. Doesn’t he know this already?!)

16. Sam abruptly heads home (where is dad is vacuuming and his mother is presumably at work, pile driving an opponent) and tells his father that “Strange Street isn’t strange at all!”

Jesus.

I have literally been muttering “It was the seventies, Jess. A product of its time.” under my breath for the past ten minutes.

So…there’s a taste of my ‘not-so-awesome’ kid lit collection. What did you think, dear readers? More, more, more?!
Oh, I have more.
So much more.
Until next time!