Review of The Three Billy Goats Gruff

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
retold by Mac Barnett; illus. by Jon Klassen
Preschool, Primary    Orchard/Scholastic    48 pp.
10/22    9781338673845    $18.99

Frequent collaborators Barnett and Klassen serve up a delectable rendition of the oft-retold folktale. The bare-bones narrative “clip clops” along with abundant humor and plenty of verbal delights, repetition, and rhyme (“Who seeks to reach the grassy ridge? / Who dares to walk across my bridge?”) as the brash, blustery bully of a troll gleefully lists all the ways he loves to eat goat. Droll, digitally compiled illustrations created with ink, watercolor, and graphite capture a proscenium view of the action above and below the bridge and depict a large, rodent-like troll who dwells in the muck of a bone-strewn riverbank. How the menacing meat-eater gets his comeuppance and the clever brothers go on to enjoy grassy glory on the other side of the bridge are the stuff of legend, and here they’re given a playful twist by these masters of the deadpan. The tale wraps up with the troll floating down the river and around a bend. “Where he ended up I really can’t say. I’ve never gone that far. There are too many mosquitoes.” Sure to be a read-aloud favorite, this engaging interpretation will sit comfortably next to classic versions by Marcia Brown, Glen Rounds, Paul Galdone, and Jerry Pinkney.

From the January/February 2023 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Luann Toth
Luann Toth

Luann Toth is a former reviews editor at School Library Journal. She holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.