Picture Book Nook: The Three Bears (Sort of) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley

If you think you know the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears then you better think again.  I’m sure you’ve never had a child pointing out the loop holes in the story as you read it before.  This is exactly what happens in Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley’s new take on the story, The Three Bears (Sort of).

A mother starts to read the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to her son before bed, but he doesn’t just sit there quietly and listen to the story.  This boy is both switched-on and rather annoying.  His mother can only read a sentence or two before he points out an issue with the story.  First, he wants to know what sort of bears they were (Grizzly bears? Polar bears?). He also points out that daddy bears don’t live with mummy bears (mummy bears raise their cubs alone), that bears don’t have thumbs so they couldn’t pick up a pot for the porridge, and that bears would probably just eat fish instead of porridge.  Every time he questions a detail of the story you wonder why you hadn’t thought of that yourself.

The Three Bears (Sort of) is an entertaining and unique retelling of Goldilocks and the Three Bears that adults will enjoy as much as children.  Yvonne Morrison’s text will have you in stitches! It’s full of sarcasm that adults especially will love and she’s captured the voice of an inquisitive toddler and the mother (who’s making it up as she goes along) perfectly. Donovan Bixley’s illustrations are absolutely wonderful and really match the humour of the story and the way it’s being told.  The hands of the mother and son can be seen on some of the pages, as they draw or add pictures into the story.  Donovan’s Goldilocks looks both cute and bratty, and I love the facial expressions of the bears.  I think Donovan is New Zealand’s own Anthony Browne, because of the way he adds extra details into his illustrations that add another layer to the story.  On the very first page, above the publication details, there are some interesting objects on the mantelpiece, including soft toy bears, a card for a locksmith, and a postcard from Svalbard.  You’ll also notice the tree patterns on the wallpaper.  I also really love the way that Donovan has designed the book, with the son’s interruptions inside a box on the page and in a different, childish font.  This makes it clear to see when the son is talking and when the mother is talking.

It’s perfect for reading aloud one-on-one or with a large group, and it’s ideal for acting out, as one person could be the mother and one person could be the son.  This is how we’ll be performing it at our Three Bears Breakfast at Shirley Library in Christchurch next Saturday (16 March).

5 out of 5 stars

6 thoughts on “Picture Book Nook: The Three Bears (Sort of) by Yvonne Morrison and Donovan Bixley

  1. This book is a fabulous read, very innovative and informative, and I can see it all happening, actually it has happened to me, thanks to my son.

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