Reviews for Three Billy Goats Gruff and Mean Calypso Joe


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 2002
K-Gr. 3. Youngquist transports a Norwegian folktale to the Caribbean, setting the story on Split in Two Island, "floating in the sparkling Caribbean Sea." The three billygoats-- Little Billygoat, Williegoat, and Captain Bill E. Goat--get a taste for the treats on the other side of the island, but the connecting bridge is guarded by Calypso Joe: "I am Calypso Joe, de meanest troll dis part of de island. Nobody cross dis bridge, but first he pay de toll!" The story mostly sticks to its traditional structure, except at the end, which is a happier finale for all. The Caribbean setting gives the story a new flavor, which some children will appreciate more than others, but the lush acrylic paintings, bright with tropical green and turquoise, give the story a sparkly, vivacious quality. Sorra plays with perspective, as well; one picture shows Calypso Joe thrown high in the air with the goats as tiny figures on the bridge beneath him. Fun for children who are comfortable with stories in dialect. ((Reviewed August 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2002 Fall
Although the Caribbean setting brings an element of fun to the popular Norwegian tale, there is very little here that is intrinsic to Caribbean culture. The characters speak in dialect and the island is a typical verdant tropical paradise, but this troll and these goats could be from anywhere. The humorous acrylic paintings feature stocky goats and a rotund green troll. Copyright 2002 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 2002 May #2
How about those Gruffs tromping across their famously troll-guarded bridge between two Caribbean islands? Debut author Youngquist couldn't resist landing this well-known story in the heart of the area in which she spends part of each year. The drill here is the same: the three goats decide to opt for greener pastures, but must face their fear in the guise of a mean troll. They do so with their usual cleverness and strength. With island accents for the goats and troll and the help of Sorra's bright, Philippines-inspired acrylic colors, the story takes on the sun-drenched, water-surrounded rhythm of the verdant West Indies (sorry, no sandy beaches, just luscious grass and wavy water). Sorra (Venola in Love, 2000, etc.) visualizes the troll Calypso Joe as a regular stitch with his seaweed green hair and flip-flops. It's hard to take him seriously when mean Calypso Joe exercises his scare tactics. Youngquist, to her credit, paces her version just right and infuses the accents with a truistic tinge so parents and librarians can read it over and over to their children without cracking. However, one is left feeling that the newly mannered Calypso Joe is such a promising idea for a character in this setting that his further adventures will be more interesting than this debut. (Picture book. 3-7) Copyright Kirkus 2002 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2002 November #1
In this playful debut, Youngquist spices up the familiar folktale with a Caribbean setting, and gives the nasty troll a lesson in manners to boot. Three goats hunger for the lush vegetation across a bridge guarded by Calypso Joe, a likable, green-skinned curmudgeon faintly reminiscent of Shrek. This troll's post is, naturally, a hammock complete with umbrella, tropical drink and sunglasses. As each goat tries to cross, the fellow roars, "I am Calypso Joe,/ de meanest troll dis part of de island./ Nobody cross dis bridge, but first he pay de toll!" Although heavy, the characters' melodic dialect and colorful language conjure the tale's setting and complement Sorra's (One Glad Man) tropical-hued acrylics. The artist puts the goats through their paces against a backdrop of luscious blues and greens, while Youngquist comes up with a redemptive twist. After the eldest goat butts Joe into the sea, Joe returns. " `How do you do,' he growled politely./ `I am Calypso Joe, a pretty good Joe,/ de nicest troll dis part of the island./ Now everybody can go 'cross dis bridge,/ no problem, man... no toll!' " Ages 3-7. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2002 November
PreS-Gr 1-Three goats, a bridge, and tastier grass on the other side are all familiar, but the troll's name is Mean Calypso Joe, a pretty good clue that this version of the classic folktale takes place far from its Norwegian roots. The plot structure remains basically the same as the original; the variations are in the Caribbean dialect, the tropical setting, and the sunnier ending. Mean Calypso Joe has big square teeth, "eyes as big as coconuts," and seaweed hair. He sleeps in a hammock slung under the bridge and pops up whenever his rest is disturbed, shouting, "Nobody cross dis bridge, but first he pay de toll!" He meets his comeuppance in traditional fashion but it's a lesson well learned, as the now well-mannered creature assures all who cross, "no problem, man- no toll!" The expansive acrylic illustrations are bold and appropriately bright with lots of blue and green. The likable goats (especially the youngest with his little beanie and innocent expression) and the silly troll greatly mitigate the scare factor. Familiarity with the tale allows listeners to pay attention to the cadences and rhythms of the island lilt, so long as the reader can carry it off. Like the hip billy goat family in Rebecca Emberley's Three Cool Kids (Little, Brown, 1995), this tropical version is a fresh take on an old favorite.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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