For almost every familiar folk tale and fairy tale, there are many versions in print.
Different authors and illustrators slant these stories according to their own creativity.
"The Three Little Pigs," "Jack and the Beanstalk," "Little Red Riding Hood" are all subject to change. For the toddlers, I look for versions with the least potential to bring on nightmares.
For older children, it's fun to read several versions to compare and contrast the stories and choose favorites based on personal opinion.
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" retold and illustrated by Jan Brett is a version I consider to be the gold standard. The lavish illustrations evoke Bavarian forests. Details keep children absorbed, as they find something new with every reading. At the end, Goldilocks is discovered by the Three Bears. She's so terrified, she jumps out the window and runs into the forest, never to be seen again.
"Goldilocks" by Ruth Sanderson is another beautifully illustrated version of the tale. Again, there's a Bavarian setting. The ending is completely different. Goldilocks is terrified when she awakes to the bears, but the bears don't let her run away. Mama Bear firmly tells their uninvited visitor to make up the beds and teaches her how to cane the chair seat she broke. Papa Bear fixes the legs of the chair. Goldilocks contributes the blueberries she's picked, and they all enjoy breakfast together. I like this version because the child is allowed to atone for her naughtiness.
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by Lauren Child explains that Goldilocks is a very curious child. Her curiosity leads her off the forest path and into trouble at the bears' house. When she wakes up and sees the bears, she runs back home as fast as she can, leaving behind her little red shoes. The intriguing aspect of this version is the illustrations. Emily L. Jenkins, a theatrical set designer, created an intricate miniature world, a perfect doll's world, which was photographed by Polly Borland. The magical and imaginative settings are as interesting as the story.
"Goldilocks and the Three Bears" by Emma Chichester Clark calls Goldilocks "naughty." Prior to each transgression, "She didn't wonder. She didn't ask." The colorful illustrations depict a modern house, modern clothing and a spoiled child. When the bears find Goldilocks, they laugh as she runs home, "... where she hid under her bed and ... never poked her nose in other people's houses again."
So, the next time your child wants to hear "Jack and the Beanstalk" for the thousandth time, you could surprise her with another version.
You may also choose the version that appeals to you the most, and stick with it.
The "real" Goldilocks is your favorite Goldilocks.
Contact Fran Hawk at email@example.com.