31 Days: The Middle-Sized Bear
Clara (who will be two on Tuesday) really loves The Three Bears. Unlike her older sister, she’s never been one to be frightened by stories, so even the ‘scary’ parts are interesting to her. Earlier this week, she kept asking for something that sounded like “medium-sized” at bedtime, and it took me a bit to figure out what she meant: she wanted me to read to her about the “medium-sized” bear. Instead, I read her the whole story, and it made me realize that maybe some other toddlers would enjoy hearing about our favorite versions of the story.
This is the version we read most frequently. It’s Rob Hefferson’s new illustrations of the fairly classic Little Golden Books text. None of the illustrations is frightening, and the text doesn’t moralize unnecessarily. (I’m a firm believer that showing, rather than telling, goes a long way in imparting morals to kids.) The illustrations are charming, but timeless. You don’t get the sense that this is something that happens in your neighborhood, but it also doesn’t look like something that took place three hundred years ago. I highly recommend this version for the toddler/preschool crowd.
Jim Aylesworth and Barbara McClintock’s version is actually Bethany’s favorite. It’s a fair bit more flowery and Victorian in style, but it also gives a lot more details about what goes on during the course of the story. Aylesworth provides a great deal of backstory for Goldilocks, explaining why she was in the woods in the first place, and why she would end up in this precarious situation. There is a heavy dose of “listen to your mother,” but it doesn’t seem out of place in the overall flow of the story. This is definitely a more in-depth retelling, and is better suited to slightly older preschoolers/Kindergarteners and up. (The back cover shares a recipe for porridge cookies, which appear to be oatmeal cookies in disguise.)
And, of course, we can’t leave out Paul Galdone – master reteller of traditional tales. To me, this is the version most likely to cause some upset in sensitive children, so this would be a version I’d recommend for children of school age and up. However, if you’re a teacher looking to study fairy tales as a genre, this is a great choice! Galdone’s unique voice shines in this story without disturbing the traditional elements of the tale. If you’re only interested in one version of this story, I would tell you to choose this one, because it encompasses the oral storytelling tradition that has made these stories timeless.