Bookworms | comparing children's literature: Goldilocks

One of my favorite things to do when it comes to reading books to the girls is finding variations of the same tale and reading (or watching) them together. Ellie (who is four) is at a particularly fun age for this. I love to watch her eyes get wide when she notices connections and I love watching her knit her eyebrows together and scrunch up her nose when she doesn’t like a particular deviation from the story she holds as “true.”

Ellie is never more of a stickler than when it comes to the story of Rapunzel. To her, the movie Tangled is gospel and thou shalt not mess with that shit. After a few failed attempts at looking at different versions of the story that just left her annoyed, I decided it was time to move on to another fairy tale.

Bookworms | comparing children's literature: Goldilocks

Goldilocks seemed like a good one, especially since we already own Mo WillemsGoldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs and Ellie loves it. So we hit the library and came home with two other versions.

Mo still owns our hearts, but it was fun to see how other authors told the story.

comparing Goldilocks | Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Caralyn Buehner and Mark BuehnerGoldilocks and the Three Bears by Caralyn Buehner and Mark Buehner

In this version of the story, the bear family goes for a walk so that their porridge will be perfect when they get back. Goldilocks jumps rope right into their house, eyes wild and singing in rhyme. When the bears return, they think a wild beast is in their house. Goldilocks escapes by jumping out a window and Mama Bear saves the day by making another huge pot of porridge.

This one sticks pretty close to the classic version of the story that I think most people think of when they think Goldilocks.

comparing Goldilocks | Goldilocks and the Three Bears by James Marshall

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by James Marshall

Marshall shakes the story up a tiny bit more. We’re a big fan of his silly books (like George and Martha and The Guest), so I hoped that this one would follow suit. It definitely gave Goldilocks more of a personality. On the very first page someone new in town refers to her as a “sweet child” and a neighbors bites back with “That’s what you think.” That’s our very first clue that maybe we should think a little bit more about a girl who thinks it’s ok to barge into someone’s empty house.

On the very next page, Goldilocks’s mom asks her to go over to the next village and buy some muffins. She has the girl promise she will not take the shortcut—which, of course, she totally took.

The rest of the story stays pretty true to the classic telling and the Buehner version. This bear family just happens to go for a bike ride while letting their porridge cool. Again, Goldilocks escapes through the window.

comparing Goldilocks | Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo WillemsGoldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

Mo Willems’ version is definitely the most unique we’ve ever read. First of all, there is no bear family. Instead, there’s a Mama and Papa dinosaur… and a dinosaur they know who is visiting from Norway. These dinosaurs decide for no particular reason, to leave bowls of yummy chocolate pudding lying around at varying temperatures, make their beds up all nice, and arrange chairs just so. They leave their house to go Someplace Else—definitely not to hide in the woods waiting—and Goldilocks, who “is not the type of little girl who listened to anyone or anything,” goes right in their house.

This Goldilocks goes through the pudding and the chairs and makes it to the bedroom before realizing she’s in a dinosaur’s house. And this Goldilocks is no fool. She hightails it out the back door just as the dinosaurs are rushing through the front door.

And, in possibly my favorite page in any book, Mo Willems gives us the moral of the story:

Mo Willems moral

Do you like comparing versions of classic stories with your kids? I’d love to hear some of your favorites in the comments! 

Written by Jennifer Garry
Jen is a freelance writer and girl mom from New York. When she's not knee-deep in glittery crafts and girl talk, you can probably find her sprawled across her couch in the middle of a Netflix marathon with dark chocolate smeared on her face. The struggle is real.