cover image The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff

Mac Barnett, illus. by Jon Klassen. Orchard, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-338-67384-5

It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate pair of picture book rascals to remix this famous fairy tale, a series-starting retelling, than collaborators Barnett and Klassen (The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse). Working in his customary earthen tones, Klassen gives the troll a round schnozz and pointy fangs; his under-the-bridge hideout sports a skull-and-bone mobile. Gleeful grossness abounds as the troll awaits a would-be feast (“All he’d eaten lately was... some goop he’d found in his belly button”), but when the first two ungulate siblings trod the bridge, the troll’s elaborate rhyming lines reveal unexpected gastronomic sophistication (“A goat flambé with candied yams./ A goat clambake, with goat, not clams!”). Narrow ribbons of images rise as the pages turn, creating a tidal effect that crowds the text close to the top of later spreads. Meanwhile, the goats’ ruse goes just as tradition dictates: the troll falls for each sibling’s offer of a larger, tastier brother, building to a turn of gargantuan proportions and a multi-spread, slapstick finale that’s guaranteed to elicit raucous fun and repeat performances: “Who seeks to reach the grassy ridge?/ Who dares to walk across my bridge?” Ages 4–8. [em](Oct.) [/em]