Anthony Browne turns his prodigious talents to a clever retelling of the Goldilocks tale in his latest picture book, Me and You. This is no fractured story, though—it’s a full reimagining of Goldilocks from an urban point of view. Browne’s work always begs to be read slowly and the careful reader or lap-listener will be rewarded for patience.
The amusing details start on the first page—“This is our house.” Of course the address of the house is number 3 (for the three bears) and alert readers will spy a little wolf sneaking into the left corner of the page. Surrealism is Browne’s stock in trade and even the first page has hints of things to come: a ball in the backyard seems suspended in midair and what appear to be trees behind the house are really smokestacks and apartment buildings. Turn the page and the sunny yellow house is replaced with another house; this time all color is drained from the four inset illustrations except a child’s golden bangs. Despite the sepia tones and grim urban surroundings, the reader knows who the child must be in this new narrative: none other than Goldilocks, but in this version of the story she is wearing jeans and a hooded sweatshirt.
The separate stories of Goldilocks and the three bears unfold side by side on each two-page spread of the book, with the muted tones of Goldilocks’ world in stark contrast to the colorfully bright environment and warm family life of the bears.
Reading new versions of old nursery stories is always fun for a beginning reader, and Me and You is especially satisfying with all the visual elements to be pored over. New revelations will be noticed each time, from the foreshadowing on the cover to the sly reappearance of the wolf. For older readers and adults sharing the story, Browne’s two-sided retelling adds a powerful new edge to this familiar tale.