Rounds's pedestrian retelling of the familiar Norwegian folk tale about the billy goats who trick a mean troll lacks the verve and vitality that has made the story a favorite of kids around the world. Reminiscent of children's crayon drawings, the illustrations--set against ample white backgrounds--feature a yellow sun outlined with black rays that hangs in a blue pencilled sky, and a scraggly hillside where ``the grass is so tall and green and tender.'' The eponymous animals, however, seem neither brave nor clever, and the troll hardly surly enough to make the story work. There is almost no character differentiation between the smallest goat, who goes trip-trapping across the troll's bridge and the biggest Billy Goat Gruff, who butts the troll from the bridge. Nor do the frequent use of exclamation points, changes in font size and capital letters compensate for the lack of either storytelling voice or drama in the straightforward text. This tale is better served by previously published renderings, such as the standard Paul Galdone version. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1993 Release date: 03/01/1993 Genre: Children's
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.