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Favourite books: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

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By Charlotte RonaldsDeputy Editor, Child Education Plus

This retelling brings a new twist to the classic tale and has all the makings of becoming a timeless classic, says Charlotte Ronalds

Child Education January -  Goldilocks

‘A little curiosity can be a wonderful thing, but too much and you have trouble’. So warns Lauren Child at the start of Goldilocks and the Three Bears (Puffin, ISBN 978014138309). And in this version of the cautionary tale, Goldilocks has far too much curiosity for her own good.So when she discovers a rather curious-looking cottage, she can’t help but take a peek inside. Inevitably, she causes the usual chaos before being discovered by the Three Bears and running away, although in this retelling, she leaves her little red shoes behind.

The really refreshing thing about this book is the accompanying images. Rather than using illustrations, Polly Borland shot photographs of models in hand-built miniature sets, designed by Emily Jenkins. Children will love pouring (or should be that pawing?) over the pictures and spotting all the wonderful details.

Talking points

  • Read the story with the children, paying special attention to the images. What do they make of them? The number three is very significant – how many things in the pictures can the children spot in groups of three?
  • Listen to the podcast on the making of the book, and read the interviews (both available below). Discuss how long it took the book to make from start to finish. Why did the makers need to spend so long on it?
  • Lauren Child has cleverly added a twist in the tale involving red shoes. Do the children like this new version? Why might she have added this?
  • What do the children think of Goldilocks? Was she wrong to enter the Three Bears’ cottage?
  • What does it mean to be curious? Is curiosity a good or bad quality? Why?

A picture tells a thousand words

The makers of the book have paid very close attention to detail, even using real porridge in the bears’ bowls! Cover up the text and just show the children the pictures. Can they describe what is happening in each scene? Does this mean all stories need text?

Challenge the children, either individually or in pairs, to make a story that is told purely through pictures. Can the other children work out what the story is about and write some text to accompany it?

Curiosity killed the cat

Tell the children this proverb and explain what it means. Goldilocks lets her curiosity get the better of her many times in the book – and it sees her get into trouble. Talk about whether it is right to enter other people’s property and why it is dangerous to stray off known routes when walking alone.

The moral of this story is really that the privacy of others should be respected. Do the children think Goldilocks will learn from her mistake, or do they think she will go on being too curious? Set the scene for a debate by saying that Goldilocks is out walking in the forest again and comes across another house. What would she do? Take a class vote to see whether the children think she is more likely to enter or simply carry on walking.

New shoes?

In this retelling, the author has added a twist by making Goldilocks accidentally leave her little red shoes at the Three Bears’ cottage. Luckily, they are just the right size for Small Bear – and he is very happy to have them! Goldilocks gets into trouble from her mother for losing her shoes – but is this punishment enough? Invite the children to come up with a suitable punishment for Goldilocks. She could do all her mother’s chores for a week, or maybe be forced to eat porridge for a whole day!

Make it, take it!

Divide the class into groups of six, and challenge them to create their own photographic picture books based on a traditional tale. They will need to work as a team, firstly deciding on which traditional tale they would like to recreate. Each group should then subdivide into set creators, photographers and writers. The set creators need to storyboard their ideas (as Emily Jenkins explains in her interview), before making the sets and choosing a location. (They will need to work closely with the photographers here, to check the locations are not too dark or too light). Meanwhile, the writers should turn the storyboarded ideas into a text – can they think of a twist like the red shoes used in Goldilocks? Once a draft of the story has been written, the photographers can use it and the storyboard to help them ‘shoot’ the scenes using a digital camera.

When the photographers have finished, load the images onto a computer. The groups can import the photographs into a Word document (remembering to use one as a front cover) and add the story text. Finally, print the finished books off and let other classes enjoy reading them.