• Happy birthday Kay Chorao (Shadow Night). Rosekrans Hoffman (Pignic), and Ethel Kessler (Stan the Hot Dog Man).
  • It’s the birth date of Eleanor Clymer (1906–2001), The Trolley Car Family.
  • Help! The distress signal “CQD” is established in 1904 only to be replaced two years later by “SOS.” Read The SOS File by Betsy Byars, Betsy Duffey, and Laurie Myers; and SOS: Stories of Survival by Ed Butts.
  • It’s Old Rock Day. Read Everybody Needs a Rock by Byrd Baylor, If You Find a Rock by Peggy Christian, and Rocks In My Pockets by Marc Harshman and Bonnie Collins.

January has been designated National Folktale Month. Ever since Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith published The True Story of Three Little Pigs, over two decades ago, fractured fairy tales, or folklore, have attracted writers and illustrators. Our book of the Day, Mo Willems’s Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs, falls squarely in that tradition. Children enjoy stretching conventions, even if they are not familiar with the original version of the story. I myself grew up loving the old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons that played with the fairy-tale form.

I have always found “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” quite bland as a tale. Hence I was excited to see what Mo Willems, a comic genius, could do with the material. Right away on the endpapers, he has readers laughing. He writes and then crosses out a variety of titles that he will not be using for the book—fascinating ideas such as “Goldilocks and the Three Jumbo Shrimp.” The final endpage continues this concept—with “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” circled.  Of course, all these titles will give children—and adults—some interesting ideas for their own story.

Then we meet our protagonists—a father dinosaur, a mother dinosaur, and a dinosaur visiting from Norway. The inclusion of a foreign guest allows Willems to use a strange language and include Norway jokes. After making some delicious chocolate pudding, the three head someplace else, leaving the pudding to lure in an unsuspecting child. This Goldilocks does not listen to anyone—she just goes barging into houses. She stuffs herself with chocolate pudding and heads to bed. However, realizing that something is suspicious, our heroine takes action before the return of the dinosaurs. So all is well that ends well, and Willems even provides some very funny moral lessons.

With lively and humor-filled art, punchy sentences, and engaging characters, Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs has everything to keep adults and children laughing. Although Mo Willems made his name in children’s books with Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus, he is far from a one-trick pony. In fact, I consider him the Dr. Seuss of our age; he can fashion one endlessly funny and fascinating book after another—books for preschoolers, books for emerging readers, and now a fractured fairy tale. For one of his morals, Mo tells readers that “If you ever find yourself in the wrong story, leave.” When children pick up a Mo Willems book, they are never in the wrong story.

Here’s a page from Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs:


Originally posted January 7, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Dinosaurs, Folktale
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs


  1. Chauntelle says:

    What a creative version to this story, it sounds way cute so I’ll have to check it out. Thanks for the recommendation. :)

  2. Kelly says:

    This is currently in my classroom library. I plan on reading it later this week to my preschoolers–I have a feeling they will really enjoy the dinosaurs!

  3. Cathy Mealey says:

    Mo is the king of the expressive eyebrow. Look at Pigeon, Elephant, Piggie, even Trudy. Great eyebrows that say as much as the text. Brilliant!

  4. marlene jennerjohn says:

    The story is wonderful and Goldilocks was too smart for the dinosaurs to get eaten. Great for storytime.

  5. Kim says:

    Read this today to my Kinders, they loved it!

  6. Tina Hanlon says:

    There are so many great fractured fairy tales. I teach “The Stinky Cheese Man” in college classes as the ultimate postmodern, metafictional satire. If you like a somewhat more traditional Goldilocks, Ruth Sanderson’s relatively recent Goldilocks picture book has GORGEOUS illustrations, and some plot twists and a muffin recipe to go with her new ending.

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