Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book #319: Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

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Most people know the story of Goldilocks and the three bears, but did you know that Goldilocks made a slight detour before finding the bears’ house? That adventure took her to the enormous house of three dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur, and some other Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway. Before Goldilocks arrived the dinosaurs made three bowls of chocolate pudding at varying temperatures, for no reason at all, and certainly not because they were imagining the delicious taste of a chocolate-filled-little-girl-bonbon. Not long after the dinosaurs had gone Someplace Else, which looked a lot like hiding in the woods waiting for an unsuspecting kid to fall into their trap, but wasn’t at all, Goldilocks barged into the Dinosaurs house. Will Goldilocks eat the gigantic bowls of chocolate pudding? Will she figure out she’s in danger before the dinosaurs come home for “chewy-bonbon-time”? Will she make it to the right story?

As usual, Willems takes the reader’s expectations, flips them up, inverts them, and brings it all together with a humorous flair and unmistakable style. Willems’ tongue-in-cheek text is witty and he knows kids, as well as adults, will be in on the joke. The dialogue makes good use of punctuation to convey the subtext of the dinosaurs’ evil plan. The absurdity of the exaggerated characters is conveyed in text and illustrations. Papa Dinosaur has a scribbley mustache and Mama Dinosaur wears a purple wig. The illustrations, outlined in thick black lines, are bright and colorful with many humorous elements. Readers familiar with Willems other books will delight in the hidden visuals, such as Pigeon hiding in the cookie jar. Make sure to check out the endpapers as well, which feature a lot of discarded ideas for Goldilocks stories, “Goldilocks and the Three Naked Mole Rats,” “Goldilocks and the Three Clams,” etc.

Read several versions of the Goldilocks and the three bears story and compare and contrast characters and outcomes. Try James Marshall’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears (a Caldecott Honor Book), Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Caralyn Buehner or Jan Brett’s Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

For a dinosaur themed storytime pair this book with titles like, Stomp, Dinosaur, Stomp!, Brontorina or one of Jane Yolen’s How Do Dinosaurs…books. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray put together an Everything’s Better with Dinosaurs event kit.

Check out the humorous activities sheet also created by HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. I especially like the idea of singing songs and replacing a word with “Dinosaur.” Try songs that repeat the replaced word a lot of times, such as the Kookabura Song (replace the word, “Kookabura”), My Hat it has Three Corners (“Hat”), You Are My Sunshine (“Sunshine”) or Baby Bumblebee (“Bumblebee”).


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