cover image The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Robert Bender. Henry Holt & Company, $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-2529-3

Where Tim Arnold (see review below) uses a folk-art-like style to freshen up an old standby, Bender saturates his story with almost otherworldly colors and lines. Building on the acetate and vinyl animator's paint medium which gave so much luster to A Little Witch Magic , the author/artist creates bold, potent spreads. Fantastic elements coexist with virtually palpable reminders of the natural world--for example, land- and skyscapes of fluid teals and greens contrast with a chilly blue river. Theatrical perspectives deepen the mood: the bulldog-faced troll leans menacingly toward his would-be victims; the largest billy goat's kick tosses the picture frame into new angles. Although the text is occasionally coy (``I'm just a low-calorie snack!'' cries the littlest goat), this volume has the power to haunt its audience. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)