Three Billygoats Gruff and Mean Calypso Joe

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In this bright and breezy retelling of the Brothers Grimm storytime favorite, the three Billygoats Gruff find themselves yearning for the delectable treats on the other side of their island. However, to get there, they first must cross a bridge...a bridge guarded by Calypso Joe, the self-proclaimed "meanest troll dis part of de island." Joe demands a toll from the goats, warning of a "big problem" if it isn?t paid. But Joe soon learns that he?s the one with the "big problem" ? ...

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Overview

In this bright and breezy retelling of the Brothers Grimm storytime favorite, the three Billygoats Gruff find themselves yearning for the delectable treats on the other side of their island. However, to get there, they first must cross a bridge...a bridge guarded by Calypso Joe, the self-proclaimed "meanest troll dis part of de island." Joe demands a toll from the goats, warning of a "big problem" if it isn¹t paid. But Joe soon learns that he¹s the one with the "big problem" — in the form of a goat twice his size.

Told in a lilting Caribbean dialect so lush, you can practically feel the warm island breezes.

In this retelling of the Norwegian tale, three clever billy goats outwit Calypso Joe, a big ugly troll that lives under the bridge on Split in Two Island in the Caribbean Sea.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this playful debut, Youngquist spices up the familiar folktale with a Caribbean setting, and gives the nasty troll a lesson in manners to boot. Three goats hunger for the lush vegetation across a bridge guarded by Calypso Joe, a likable, green-skinned curmudgeon faintly reminiscent of Shrek. This troll's post is, naturally, a hammock complete with umbrella, tropical drink and sunglasses. As each goat tries to cross, the fellow roars, "I am Calypso Joe,/ de meanest troll dis part of de island./ Nobody cross dis bridge, but first he pay de toll!" Although heavy, the characters' melodic dialect and colorful language conjure the tale's setting and complement Sorra's (One Glad Man) tropical-hued acrylics. The artist puts the goats through their paces against a backdrop of luscious blues and greens, while Youngquist comes up with a redemptive twist. After the eldest goat butts Joe into the sea, Joe returns. " `How do you do,' he growled politely./ `I am Calypso Joe, a pretty good Joe,/ de nicest troll dis part of the island./ Now everybody can go 'cross dis bridge,/ no problem, man... no toll!' " Ages 3-7. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Three goats, a bridge, and tastier grass on the other side are all familiar, but the troll's name is Mean Calypso Joe, a pretty good clue that this version of the classic folktale takes place far from its Norwegian roots. The plot structure remains basically the same as the original; the variations are in the Caribbean dialect, the tropical setting, and the sunnier ending. Mean Calypso Joe has big square teeth, "eyes as big as coconuts," and seaweed hair. He sleeps in a hammock slung under the bridge and pops up whenever his rest is disturbed, shouting, "Nobody cross dis bridge, but first he pay de toll!" He meets his comeuppance in traditional fashion but it's a lesson well learned, as the now well-mannered creature assures all who cross, "no problem, man- no toll!" The expansive acrylic illustrations are bold and appropriately bright with lots of blue and green. The likable goats (especially the youngest with his little beanie and innocent expression) and the silly troll greatly mitigate the scare factor. Familiarity with the tale allows listeners to pay attention to the cadences and rhythms of the island lilt, so long as the reader can carry it off. Like the hip billy goat family in Rebecca Emberley's Three Cool Kids (Little, Brown, 1995), this tropical version is a fresh take on an old favorite.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
How about those Gruffs tromping across their famously troll-guarded bridge between two Caribbean islands? Debut author Youngquist couldn't resist landing this well-known story in the heart of the area in which she spends part of each year. The drill here is the same: the three goats decide to opt for greener pastures, but must face their fear in the guise of a mean troll. They do so with their usual cleverness and strength. With island accents for the goats and troll and the help of Sorra's bright, Philippines-inspired acrylic colors, the story takes on the sun-drenched, water-surrounded rhythm of the verdant West Indies (sorry, no sandy beaches, just luscious grass and wavy water). Sorra (Venola in Love, 2000, etc.) visualizes the troll Calypso Joe as a regular stitch with his seaweed green hair and flip-flops. It's hard to take him seriously when mean Calypso Joe exercises his scare tactics. Youngquist, to her credit, paces her version just right and infuses the accents with a truistic tinge so parents and librarians can read it over and over to their children without cracking. However, one is left feeling that the newly mannered Calypso Joe is such a promising idea for a character in this setting that his further adventures will be more interesting than this debut. (Picture book. 3-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689828249
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/3/2002
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 9.32 (h) x 0.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Kristin Sorra has been drawing and painting for as long as she can remember. She is also the illustrator of The Three Billygoats Gruff and Mean Calypso Joe by Cathrene Valente Youngquist and currently lives in New York with her husband, a fellow artist. Kristin has no cats, but she does have a dog named Desi who purrs in his sleep.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 21, 2004

    Mean Calypso Joe Fan

    First read this book last summer for my son's kindergarten summer reading list . I absolutely love it ! At first you get a little tongue twisted but once you get into the character you won't be able to stop talking with a Carribean accent ! My husband wishes I would stop reading it , since my son is often asleep when I do ! My only regret is the the author hasn't written any more book's .

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2003

    AN OLD TALE REVIVED WITH A TWIST AND BRILLIANT ILLUSTRATIONS, PURE JOY!

    Sorra's brilliant, dynamic, colorful illustrations pull the reader into the story. The subtle humor in the illustrations complement the fun twist the author gives to this classic tale. Overall a wonderful classroom and at home childrens read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 22, 2003

    A very good story

    It was a very cute story. Youngquist puts a nice twist on a classic folktale. I know Cathrene Youngquist. She teaches at my school and is a very nice woman. It is a very funny story.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2002

    Hope you like it because your kids will!

    I'm a teacher in the NY elementary system and as such recieved an advance copy of TBG. I read to my own children, something I do to 'test' new material and found that they demanded the story every night for nearly a month! Lushly illustrated, they love the pictures, which I find charming and sophisticated.

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