Who doesn't love a reunion show? Hodgkinson (Limelight Larry) brings together a legendary couple—Baby Bear and Goldilocks—via a clever story that offers few clues as to what the author is up to. "Once upon a time, there was this bear," who wanders out of the woods and ends up in the heart of a noisy, bustling city. Disoriented, the bear stumbles into the penthouse apartment in Snooty Towers, where he finds just the right porridge, chair, and bed before falling asleep. The family is outraged, of course, until the "mommy person" and the bear realize who the other is. Hodgkinson's angular, naïf drawing style has just the right amount of satirical nudge for depicting Goldilocks' ascension to the 1% (she's become a stylish blonde matron married to an equally stylish and blonde man with a Mr. Monopoly mustache). Hodgkinson's dry sense of humor is on full display—the first chair Baby Bear tries is "too ouchy," the second "too noisy" (they are, respectively, a cactus and a cat)—and should earn this "Where are they now?" fairy tale many re-reads. Ages 3–up. (Aug.)
Hodgkinson’s drawings and helter-skelter text bear a resemblance to Lauren Child’s "Charlie and Lola" books, but this story’s happy ending is very much its own.
—New York Times online
In this amusing take-off of the old
Goldilocks story, a bear from the woods finds himself lost in the city. It is noisy and a bit scary, so he takes refuge in a tall building called Snooty Towers. Seeking somewhere to rest, he takes an elevator, looks through a door, and spots a very pleasant-looking place. Feeling hungry, he thinks some porridge, as in the original tale, might be a good idea. We see in the illustrations, however, that what he is tasting, and finding too "soggy" or too "crunchy," is not porridge at all. Next, trying to rest, he tries "chairs," that, obvious to readers, are far from places to sit. When he finds the bed that is "just right," he falls asleep. Loud voices wake him, complaining in a familiar pattern "somebody has been...." But the mommy-person here turns out to be familiar, for a surprise happy ending. Visually depicted in mixed media in large, double-page scenes, the characters and objects are recognizable, with a stylized contemporary look and lots of angles and sketchy settings. Monochromatic end pages show the bear's travels. Many extra details and some hand-calligraphic lettering further the visual interest and basis for comparisons with other versions. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
.K-Gr 2—In this clever spin-off, Baby Bear (now grown up) breaks into Goldilocks's family's condo in "Snooty Towers." As he searches for porridge, he ends up consuming water from a fishbowl and the cat's food. He also sits on a cactus and reclines in a bathtub before finding his way to a comfortable chair and bed. The triumph of this book is the brilliant moment in which Goldilocks and Baby Bear recognize each other and begin reminiscing about their previous encounter and Goldilocks apologizes for her previous behavior. The snappy, British-flavored language is perfectly paired with jazzy mixed-media illustrations in mustard yellow, teal, lime, and magenta. Hodgkinson assembles urban street scenes with whimsically asymmetrical buildings. Older children will enjoy reading humorous street and shop signs ("This Way," "No This Way Actually" and "Wolf's Clothing Boutique"). Librarians will find this book an excellent addition to fairy-tale units, especially since the narrative invites so much discussion. The story is rich with contrast: rural and urban, animal and human, child and adult. The humor will likely overpower the illogical aspects of the story, but some sharp children may still point out flaws. Why, for example, did the bear think a cactus was a chair if he had chairs in his own woodsy cottage? Why was Goldilocks's luxury apartment unlocked? Even in a fairy-tale world, stories need logic to suspend disbelief. Children may or may not notice these minor cracks in an otherwise sharp retelling.—Jess deCourcy Hinds, Bard High School Early College, Queens, NY
A sequel to the traditional fairy tale finds a bear lost in a big city. Overwhelmed by the noise and lights, the bear ducks into Snooty Towers apartments to escape and get some much-needed rest. Some porridge would hit the spot. But one bowl is too soggy (fishbowl water--with fish!), one too crunchy (cat food) and the last is dry but doable (buttered toast). The mishaps continue in his search for a chair and a bed (a cactus and bath tub are involved, and the cat continues to be abused). The return of the penthouse-dwelling family wakes him, and he listens to their complaints as they follow his trail through the apartment to the little person's bed where he is resting. The mommy person and the bear recognize each other and catch up over porridge before the now-grown Baby Bear finds his way back to the woods. Hodgkinson's mixed-media artwork is the real star. The retro illustrations are done in bold blues, lime greens and pinks and are full of patterns and wonderfully scratchy and marbled textures. The blond family's clothing, hairdos and attitudes neatly match their penthouse home, and the text plays into the artwork; "bright lights" is surrounded by lines depicting shine, while "wobbly" is written in a suitably shaky style. Cute, but readers may wonder how a bear who grew up in the cottage that Goldilocks visited could have not a "crumb-of-a-clue" about porridge, chairs and beds.
(Fractured fairy tale. 3-8)