In revisiting the well-known fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Anthony Browne presents the reader with two parallel lives that intersect briefly. As the tale unfolds we get an insight into the life of Goldilocks, a view-point that is not always explored.
The different life styles of the two main characters are emphasised on the opening page. We see Little Bear and Goldilocks with their backs turned, walking away from each other, one head is bowed the other raised high. The colours used further emphasize both status and emotions.
Set in modern times, the Three Bears live in a typical middle class detached house (the type you might find on housing estates built after the second world war) surrounded by a forest of telegraph poles, tower blocks and building cranes. As in the original story, The Three Bears set off for a walk while their porridge cools down enough for them to eat it. Little Bear plays on the benches whilst his parents walk up and down talking to each other about; their work, the car and the house. At the same time Goldilocks sets off from her home (a dreary terrace house) to the shops with her mother. Her attention is attracted by a stray balloon. She takes off after it and it leads her through a maze of back streets until she become aware that she is lost. In her attempt to retrace her steps and find her mum Goldilocks comes across the brightly painted house of The Three Bears. The door is open. Entering, she finds the porridge, eats it. Sits on the chairs and breaks one, finally falling asleep in the best bed of all. On their return, the bears discover what the intruder has done down stairs and set off upstairs to see what has happened up there. This time it’s Mummy Bear who leads the way. The meeting of the Bears and Goldilocks is viewed from both points of view (shown over two pages). From Goldilocks viewpoint the bears are large, angry (apart from little bear) and looming over her, this is reinforced by the use of perspective and sepia. From the bear’s perspective Goldilocks is small, doll-like and looks scared. Not staying to talk Goldilocks leaps out of bed, dashes downstairs and out into the street, watched by Little Bear (who wonders what happened to her) from the bedroom window and from the downstairs window by his parents. Goldilocks is finally reunited with their mother and in doing so she moves from the dark and depressing life into the loving warmth of her mother which is emphasised by Anthony Browne’s use of yellow light, a similar colour to the Three Bears House.
The illustrations as usual add another dimension to the books, enabling the reader to bring their own experiences to the story. I thought it was interesting how the life of Goldilocks is broken down into six sepia images on each page but the illustrations of The Three Bears are in colour fills the whole page. The juxtaposition of the pages adds to the feelings portrayed by the images. The use of sepia to depict the life style of Goldilocks really suggest how
The juxtaposition of sepia and colour images really emphasise the different social classes of the different characters.
Links with fairy tales is further emphasized on the first page, with the use of three’s (the number 3 on the gate post and three bear shaped balls on the fence), and what’s that wolf doing.