An extraterrestrial spaceship crashes into the “Goldilocks” fairy tale in this mashup metafictive picture book.
Prince Zilch, from Planet Zero, is unexpectedly bumped out of his book and into Goldilocks & 3 Bears, where his presence alters the plot considerably. Determined to find his way back to his own book, he enlists the help of the bewildered bears, who were picking blueberries (being sick of porridge) when the alien landed. The familiar trappings of the “Goldilocks” story are put into service with this new plot: the three chairs are balanced one on top of the other to try to boost Prince Zilch out of the confines of the book—and Baby Bear’s chair breaks. Next, the three mattresses are stacked into a makeshift trampoline, and the bears make reference to their springiness (“That’s what you think,” Goldilocks mutters). Davies’ flattish, colorful illustrations, dotted with variously colored speech bubbles, keep the visual stimulation high, but they cannot keep the story, with its overdependence on subversive Goldilocks-fairy-tale digs, from wearing thin. And when, in a metamoment, Baby Bear enlists the help of readers, entreating them, “Can you shake the book? Go ahead, shake it! Then turn the page!” it is less of an eye-opener in this popular subgenre and more of a “been there; done that.”
It’s capably enough executed, but there are no surprises here. (Picture book. 3-7)