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Three Billy Goats Buenos

  Three little cabritos have a clever plan to get past the grumpiest troll in the land. But then one of the billy goats wonders: Why is that gigante so grumpy, anyway?

Illustrated by Miguel Ordóñez
Published by Penguin Random House

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Illustrations on this page are copyrighted Miguel Ordóñez.


*Nominated for the North Carolina Top Books of 2021

*Evanston Public Library 101 Great Kids Books of 2020 list

*Junior Library Guild


School Library Journal

PreS-Gr 1–A retelling of the Norwegian fairy tale, “Three Billy Goats Gruff.” Three goats cross a bridge where a hungry “gigante” lives. As the goats, one by one, so ingeniously try to deceive the monster, the last and biggest goat has a realization that changes the outcome for all the characters. Former Spanish teacher and children book author Middleton presents the tale in rhyme with Spanish words in bold scattered throughout the two-line sentences that build the narrative. The generously sized font uses preschool-friendly vocabulary. The pencil, collage, and digitally made pastel-colored illustrations are set on a white background depicting geometrical figures and curved lines that could be used in an interactive storytime, where children find different shapes. This picture book exposes children to themes such as empathy, kindness, teamwork, and friendship, providing an ideal opportunity for a storytime focused on mindfulness. The front matter contains a glossary with all the Spanish words used in the story.


PreS–Gr. 1 Who doesn’t love the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff and the scary troll? With rhyming text and a mixture of Spanish and English, Elya presents a modern take on the old classic. Here the three little cabritos encounter a blue, toothy troll on their way to cross el rio to get to that tasty grass. One by one, the goats cross until the third one gets stopped by the troll, but this inquisitive cabrito wants to know why the troll is so grumpy! After finding the reason and mobilizing others to help, the three little goats are rewarded for their kindness by being freely allowed to cross the bridge. As a read-aloud, this bouncy rhyming story, which smoothly incorporates Spanish words and encourages proper pronunciation, provides a great opportunity to discuss kindness. Ordóñez's blocky, bright illustrations, composed of rounded shapes in flat swathes of color, add to the cheerful atmosphere. A glossary of Spanish terms and pronunciation guide bolster language-learning opportunities in this lively, engaging take on a classic tale.— Esmeralda Majors

Kirkus Review

A time-honored folktale gets a makeover with the addition of snappy Spanish vocabulary.

In what begins as a familiar tale, three goat brothers are prevented from crossing a river by an irritable troll. They must put their heads together to formulate a plan to get past the troll, but the thoughtful goats in this version of the story find opportunities for empathy and even new friendships when they begin to wonder why the troll is so grumpy and are able to help her with a combination of first aid and goodwill. A scary troll proves to be a new amiga when the goats choose to show her kindness. In her now characteristic style, Elya’s rhyming couplets seamlessly weave Spanish words into verses: “How many creatures can pass me? Ningunos! You kids will be part of mis desayunos!” Repetition of some phrases and vocabulary will benefit both emerging readers and those who are working to learn Spanish. Ordóñez’s bold, geometric illustrations mesh with the simplicity of the plot and deliver lively visuals. Two of the goats have cute little beards; the troll looks like a blue brick with round ears and eyes, a V-shaped scowl, triangular pink nose and smaller triangular white fangs, and impossibly long arms. Byron Barton fans will appreciate the vibrant and uncluttered style.

An enjoyable addition to any folklore collection, this iteration of the classic story packs visual and linguistic punch. (glossary) (Picture book. 3-6)

Journal Library Guild

Three little cabritos have a clever plan to get past the grumpiest troll in the land. But then one of the billy goats wonders: Why is that gigante so grumpy, anyway? This thoughtful question sends their plan in a new direction, and the results are better than they ever imagined. Dashes of humor, empathy, and kindness make this modern twist on a classic tale a charming delight.

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