Don’t Just Believe Whatever Story Someone Tries to Tell, You Should Always Question Aspects That Don’t Make Sense!
The Three Bears Sort of, Yvonne Morrison (Author) Donovan Bixley (Illustrator)
As a kid I used to question stories with characters or creatures not behaving as they do in real life all the time and drive teachers, parents and other grown ups mad. I absolutely love The Three Bears Sort Of, as it has a mother (or teacher, babysitter but I’m guessing female though, from the hands in some of the illustrations) telling the tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to a child. That child is quite intelligent and a fan of real life bears, and is quite knowledgeable about the behaviour of these creatures, and points out what is wrong with the fairy tale at each stage of the story. This forces the teller to come up with ways to keep going with the tale that make sense. Such as the child points out that bears live in caves and not houses so the teller tells the child it was an abandoned house. Then the child wants to know how a bear would pick up a pot to make porridge when they don’t have thumbs, wouldn’t it just eat oats raw and if the house is abandoned why is their power on anyway? Wouldn’t all three bowls of porridge be the same temperature? The whole fairy tale is tackled like this and is brilliantly done. The ending of the traditional way this tale is told, you’ll know it would have never ended like that once you’ve finished this book.
The pictures vary in style, we start with ones that look like photographs of the different types of bears (the child asks what type of bears these three bears were), to child like drawings, to pretty high quality detailed painting style ones.
I loved this book, maybe because I remember being like the kid in the book but even if you weren’t like me or this fictional kid, you will still find a lot of humour in these pages and will never be able to listen to Goldilocks and the Three Bears again without thinking, there’s no way that scene would happen!
Update July 2015! – Now there’s another! Little Red Riding Hood Not Quite
Also from both the same author and illustrator, a second classic fairy tale has been given the same treatment. This time it’s Little Red Riding Hood Not Quite. Again a child is being told the original version of the tale and is questioning every aspect of the story that just doesn’t make sense. The illustration style in this one is less all over the place than with Three Bears Sort Of, there’s the occasional photo or stuffed toy and other variant but even those are still drawn illustrations. The hands of the parent/teacher whoever have disappeared, we still have the arms of a child in what looks like a pyjama top but dropping the adult hands probably lets the child reader relate to the reader. The illustrations are again, very high quality.
In this one some of the things the child wants to know is why was the wolf alone, wouldn’t it have been part of a pack like in real life? Why didn’t the wolf just eat the girl in the woods there and then? When the wolf swallows grandma whole (obviously a more squeamish child friendly version was being read to the kid than the original version where grandma was still alive inside the wolf), the child points out that wolves can’t eat someone whole since wolves have bone crushing teeth and have to chew their prey. The child points out that wolves have eyes the same size as ours so the girl wouldn’t have commented on what big eyes it has. The child also wants to know why the girl wouldn’t notice the muzzle, pointy ears and other giveaways grandma has. It’s definitely another great book by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley and hopefully it won’t be the last fairy tale tackled by the duo.