I've been neglecting Picture Book Mondays lately. Not because I've lost interest in picture book. I'm still very much in awe of them. But lately nothing has blown me away enough to dedicate them a post. Till I saw this.
This version of the beloved classic fairy tale is a book that could be either completely charming or absolutely creepy, depending on how much you like porcelain dolls and hand-made puppet bears. Either way, you've got to hand it to these three women, for delivering such a great piece of work.
Lauren Child, award-winning author of so many great books, creator of Charlie and Lola, illustrator of the wonderful new translation of Pippi Longstocking...(I could go on and on about her, but let's just stop here) wrote the text. You could tell immediately, simply by the way she physically shapes the text and fonts to play along with the story.
The story itself has been added new details, such as the role of Goldilocks' lovely red shoes (there weren't any red shoes to be taken care of in the original fairy tale, right?), and, I think, a stronger emphasis on the cheekiness of Goldilocks' behaviour. Lauren Child's light humour is always present, poking fun at Goldilocks' distractions more than once. I particularly loved the new twist at the end, when Small Bear gets to keep the red shoes. And her comments: You think she would have learned by now...after Goldilocks starts on trying the big bear's bed.
However, the text still retains its fairy tale-ish feel, regardless of the new twists or additions. It's the perfect bed-time story!
Ok, to be honest with you, this has never been a big favourite of mine. What did the trick is the technique used. The entire illustrations are real photographs of dolls and settings, shot by Polly Borland and created by Emily Jenkins. Penguin's website explains it much better than I could, so there you go:
The sets for the book took over a year to make. The doll-sized cottage, complete with winding staircase, stands about a metre tall. Real turf was grown for the roof. Special wallpaper and fabrics were designed and printed, featuring woodland motifs. Exquisite miniature furniture, including the three bears' beds, chairs and porridge bowls, were carved, crafted and painted by Emily and her team of designers. Tiny slippers were sewn, cushions stuffed and bed linen edged and folded. The tiny spoons were carved specially – even the porridge is real!The cast of characters were made by world-famous doll maker, R. John Wright, whose dolls and bears sell to collectors all over the world.
Goldilocks is 30 centimetres tall and made of soft felt with hand-painted features; her golden locks are made of the softest mohair. She arrived from America complete with a tiny hand-woven basket of felt daisies, which you can see her carrying in the book. Mother, Father and Baby Bear are all made from the softest fur and have tiny resin claws. Father Bear arrived with a hand-carved wooden pipe, which, if you look very closely, you can spot in the pictures, warming by the fire.
You have to see it yourself, to appreciate the results! I can show you the doll used for Goldilocks. It's been made by R. John Wright, famous for producing dolls of Winnie the Pooh, Beatrix Potter's animals, Disney classic characters etc. I didn't know this company but their dolls look amazing!
This is Goldilocks:
"Remember these three things.
Do not stray from the path
Be back in time for breakfast
and whatever you do - make sure you look after your little red shoes"
and this is Small Bear:
A large tear welled up in Small Bear's eye and rolled down his little face. He was a sensitive type and also very fond of porridge.
The setting is equally gorgeous. The inside is like my dream country-house. Cosy and welcoming, and warm. The outside really look like an authentic wood. The bears are lovely too, (except for Father Bear, who actually looks a bit scary) and in the end, you actually feel sorry for them. Especially for poor Small Bear :D
This would be an awesome Christmas gift. I would certainly keep it in mind, if I were you.