Review of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, retold by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

retold by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Jon Klassen

Orchard Books (Scholastic), 2022. 48 pages.
Review written December 19, 2022, from a library book
Starred Review

Hooray! Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have done my favorite fairy tale — the book I didn’t know I needed!

I’m not quite sure why, but “The Three Billy Goats Gruff” has long been one of my favorite fairy tales to retell to children — since before I had kids of my own, when I would sometimes tell stories to entertain my many younger siblings. (And I mean many — I’m third of thirteen kids.) But after I had kids, this storytelling (and the fun part is the big mean troll’s voice, “WHO’S THAT STOMPING OVER MY BRIDGE?”) became a family game. You see, we lived in Germany for ten years. And one of our favorite nearby castles had a bridge over, well, not a moat but a ditch. And the kids thought it was tremendous fun for one of us to pretend to be the troll and the others to go over the bridge.

Now, the only problem with this book is that here the troll says:

“Who seeks to reach the grassy ridge?
Who dares to walk across my bridge?”

But hey, we could work with it! And it’s very fun that after the goat answers, the troll describes with rhyming couplets the ways he likes to dine on goat.

After the first goat gets by by telling the troll his bigger brother is coming, the troll chuckles to himself:

“I can’t believe I tricked that goat
into telling me about his big brother.
I’m so smart!
And fun and handsome.”

This gives you an idea of how this pair adds to the character of the troll, who’d been subsisting on his own earwax and belly button lint.

You probably know the story — the first two goats get by after telling the troll to wait for their bigger brother. In this book, the biggest billy goat gruff is so big, only his legs show on the page. And yes, he does away with the troll.

So much fun! Now thousands more families will find out about this fairy tale, a wonderful one about the little guy making his way.

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Disclaimer: I am a professional librarian, but the views expressed are solely my own, and in no way represent the official views of my employer or of any committee or group of which I am part.

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