cover image The Three Bully Goats

The Three Bully Goats

Leslie Kimmelman, illus. by Will Terry, Albert Whitman, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8075-7900-8

That's right, it's bully goats—a smart and timely idea for breathing new life into a classic. This time, the hero is the "really nice" guy under the bridge: Little Ogre, who's Shrek green, sports a purple Mohawk, and is "friends with everybody." He knows he's no match for Gruff, Ruff, and Tuff—goats so nasty that after crossing the bridge and entering the meadow, they proceed to trample wildflowers and head-butt baby animals. Like anyone afflicted by bullying, Little Ogre feels powerless—until he remembers the baby skunks who live in the tallest, sweetest grass. Terry's (The Three Little Gators) rendering style, which look like a cross between airbrushing and pastel work, can feel too controlled and well-groomed for this tongue-in-cheek retelling; while the persecuted baby animals are funny, and the final image has a triumphant cuteness, Little Ogre only registers the broadest emotions. Kimmelman (The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah) nods to her source material with a "trip trap" refrain and other rhythmic elements, but most of the fun comes from seeing a fairy tale's tables turned—and turned again. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)