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Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown and Company. Hachette, 2017. $23.49 all ages

"It's only I," the littlest billy goat squeaked. "I'm heading up the hillside to make myself fat." "I'm going to gobble you up!" declared the troll. "Oh, no, don't eat me!" cried the littlest goat. "Wait until the next billy goat crosses. He's much bigger than me."

Wait! There are two things I want to share before I tell you anything else about this newest book by the incomparable Jerry Pinkney. One: if you have never read one of his author's notes, please do so this time! He makes them so darned fascinating and thoughtful. They always give me pause. Two: If you want your kids to know what a troll really looks like, I cannot imagine a more accurate creature!

Now, to the tale itself. I am hoping that you know it, and that you have shared it with your kids. It is a trickster tale if they have ever heard one. Three members of a goat family can see that the grass truly is greener on the other side of the bridge. They are willing to take a chance with the menacing troll living under that bridge to satisfy their need for it. They know him to be heartless and cruel.

The littlest goat is also the hungriest. He is old enough to read the BEWARE sign; he is also brave. His tiny hoofs capture the troll's attention, as we knew they would. He uses his size to allow a safe crossing. And, so it goes for the second troll. While the littlest trotted, the second troll stomps, is allowed to pass after some threatening bravado on the troll's part.

Finally, he meets his match. The biggest goat storms the gate that offers a warning to those who dare to pass through it and onto the bridge. A fearful contest ensues. The troll is dislodged as is familiar to young readers. Then, Mr. Pinkney adds his own twist to the traditional tale - a less violent, and perhaps even more hopeful, conclusion.

There is little to be said about his glorious artwork, except that it is glorious! 

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