Chris Colfer (text) and Jon Proctor (illustrator), Goldilocks: Wanted Dead or Alive, Hachette Children’s Books, July 2021, 336 pp., RRP $20.35 (pbb), ISBN 9781510202504
In this graphic novel offshoot of Chris Colfer’s The Land of Stories series, readers discover the events which resulted in Goldilocks becoming a fugitive from the law in what is an inconsistently woven tale of her ‘becoming’.
Goldilocks or ‘Goldie’ for short, is shunned by her parents when she is unjustly accused of wreaking havoc at the home of the three bears and for trespassing on private property. Goldilocks flees her home and seeks refuge in the Dwarf Forests with her loyal porridge- eating horse called Porridge (of course) and befriends the auburn-haired witch, Hagetta. As the Prince, Chance Charming, sets to scheming and the manipulation of his Queen Consort and wife, Cinderella, he quickly pulls his brothers Chandler and Chase (King Consorts to Queen Snow White and Queen Sleeping Beauty respectively) into his web of intrigue and power mongering to reclaim the Dwarf Forests.
As Goldilocks becomes aware of the impending invasion of the Dwarfs Forest, she tries desperately to raise an army from the motley crew who constitute her neighbours, in an attempt to ward off the Prince Chance Charming’s attack and to preserve their home. At the final hour, Goldilocks receives support from Puss in Boots, the Gingerbread Man, Pinocchio, and the curly haired dark-skinned ‘Mother of spiders’, Miss Muffet. The transition from one over wordy exchange to the next is eventually lightened and ultimately transformed when Jon Proctor delights the reader with wordless action sequences of Goldilocks at her swashbuckling, one-person army best, thus demonstrating that she is a force to be reckoned with.
Admittedly the full colour artwork with strong and definite lines propels the story forward, but inconsistent cartooning, found especially in the faces of the majority of characters, results in emotionless facial expressions at pivotal moments in the unfolding story. Colfer’s use of prose in the Land of Stories series has proven to be an overwhelming success; however, his transition to sequential storytelling is not as successful. This graphic novel formate includes many of the classic fairy tale characters with whom readers will already be acquainted, but who will also be left with only a very superficial knowledge of these characters, at the story’s end.
Nonetheless, there is a growing popularity of graphic novels among young readers and those of whom are die hard fans of the Land of Stories series will surely find this Goldilocks origin story very enjoyable and entertaining.
Recommended for Ages 8-12 years.
Reviewed by Julie Deane