An adventurous goat and tortoise return to mash up more fairy tales in the third installment of Tharp and Heath’s (Gertrude and Toby Save the Gingerbread Man, 2016, etc.) picture-book series.
Every Friday, Gertrude, a goat, and Toby, a tortoise, sneak off the farm when Farmer Sam goes shopping. One day, when the farmer leaves, Gertrude challenges Toby to a fish-catching contest. On the way, however, they encounter a boy who yells that a wolf is coming. As savvy readers might expect, there is no wolf—neither this time, nor the second time that the youngster shouts about it. The friends reach the pond but are distracted from their fishing contest when the boy appears again, this time in a big, bad wolf’s clutches. Cautious Toby isn’t at all sure about rescuing him: “Wolves are very scary creatures,” he says. But brave Gertrude doesn’t stop to plan—she runs straight after them. After they manage to sneak the boy out of the wolf’s cave, the friends run with the boy (and their fish) to a nearby house that’s made of bricks. Fairy-tale lovers won’t be surprised that there are three pigs hiding inside it, nor that the aforementioned wolf comes up with a plan to get them. He craftily shows up in costume, but the pigs and their new friends are too clever to be outsmarted. Eventually, Gertrude solves this problem, too—at least, temporarily. The stories of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” and “The Three Little Pigs” make for a fun combination with the stouthearted heroine and her careful companion. However, there’s no real twist to either story, in this case: the big, bad wolf is still a villain, and he’ll probably come back after the boy and pigs shortly, which will undermine Gertrude’s heroism. That said, Toby’s charming speech (“I declare, beetles are better!”) and Gertrude’s goat-isms (“Behhh”) will continue to entertain young readers, and Heath’s cartoonlike illustrations, with his Disney-esque wolf and pig trio, are sure to please them, as well.
Not quite as good as previous installments, but still clever and featuring appealing images.