We have done quite a number of Lauren Child book reviews for our Fractured Fairy Tale Bimonthly theme – but it seems like we just could not get enough of her. So far, we have done a review of her The Princess and the Pea and Beware of the Storybook Wolves – now we share her Goldilocks and the Three Bears – another collaboration with Polly Borland, with Set Creation by Emily Jenkins.
Curiosity and Curls. In the usual Lauren-Child-playful-narrative-style, she presents a different dimension to Goldilocks’ character. She is depicted as an adorable little child with the proverbial curls – and boundless curiosity to boot – which gets her into a great deal of trouble:
… Goldilocks did get into trouble – quite a lot in fact – not because she was bad, but because her curiosity always got the better of her.
Now a little curiosity can be a wonderful thing, but too much and you have trouble.
And Goldilocks had a little more than too much.
I also liked the fact that Goldilocks would always use herself as a reference whenever she would do things that are not expected of her: such as going inside a strange cottage in the middle of the woods:
“No one would mind if I had a look. I wouldn’t mind if it were my house.”
There you go, she wouldn’t mind – then most likely other people wouldn’t mind. Same thing with tasting the porridge
“One little taste would not be so bad – they won’t even notice, not a taste from this large bowl.”
I liked reading through the rest of the narrative (it’s quite easy to guess what happens next) – because it shows Goldilocks’ very honest motivations and her seeming generosity of spirit.
Classic Elements of Fairy Story – Must there be Three of Everything? Another aspect from classic fairy tales that Lauren Child made full use of and magnified is the power of the triad, the threesome, the threes of everything – which is essentially at the heart of Goldilocks and the Three Bears to begin with. Even before she sees the three bowls of porridge, the three chairs, and the three beds, she was also given THREE instructions by her mother before she left home:
Do not stray from the path
Be back in time for breakfast
And whatever you do – make sure you look after your little red shoes.
Sounds fairly simple, right? Hmm.. apparently not, as Goldilocks has proven time and again in various versions of this tale.
Theatre + Photography + Quick-witted Narrative = Picture Book. As I read more of Lauren Child’s works, I can not help but be amazed by her ingenuity, her innovative way of redefining book art, and her putting a different texture/dimension to children’s literature, and picture books in particular.
I was just in total awe of this book – each time I flip a page, I give a gasp of delight. It’s a collaboration of the best and creative minds in children’s book design. As Lauren Child gives her witty phrases and classically-quirky lines, Polly Borland took fantabulous photos, while Emily Jenkins designed and hand-crafted an entirely new miniature world for Goldilocks. R. John Wright, the famous doll maker also joins in the picture with his creation of Goldilocks and the three bears. The description of the doll as found in the jacketflap is as follows:
Goldilocks is thirty centimetres tall and made of soft felt. Her golden locks are made of the finest mohair. She arrived from America complete with a tiny woven basket of felt daisies, which you can see her carrying in the book. Mother, Father and Baby Bear are all made from the finest fur and have tiny resin claws. Father Bear arrived with a hand-carved wooden pipe, which you can spot warming by the fire.
A description of the set as created by Emily Jenkins who was trained in theatre design in the UK and Paris (and who has also worked extensively on West End and Broadway musicals such as Mamma Mia and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) could be seen below (source – jacketflap of the book):
The sets were each handbuilt. The three bears’ cottage is doll-sized and stands about one metre high. Real turf was grown for the roof. When you see the cottage in the forest, it looks almost real because it was photographed in a tiny copse in the middle of a field, where the trees were very young. Inside the cottage, the wallpaper and fabrics were all specially designed and printed. Exquisite miniature furniture, including the three bears’ beds, chairs, and porridge bowls were all carved, crafted, and painted by hand. Tiny slippers were sewn, cushions stuffed and bed linen edged and folded. And although the tiny spoons were carved from balsa wood, the porridge is real!
You would have to experience this book for yourself. So worth it.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Lauren Child. Photography by Polly Borland and Set Creation by Emily Jenkins. Puffin Books, London, 2008. Book borrowed from the NIE Library.