A small bear goes for a stroll in the park with his parents, leaving their bowls of porridge cooling on the kitchen table. Meanwhile, a girl with golden hair is hopelessly lost in a big, frightening city when she comes across a house with the door left invitingly open. Inside are three bowls of porridge in the kitchen, three chairs in the living room, and three comfortable-looking beds upstairs, and no one seems to be home . . .
Browne's urban, contemporary take on the Goldilocks story brilliantly juxtaposes two artistic and narrative styles. One strand of the story is wordless, as sepia-toned panels show a girl--a hint of blond peeks from under her hoodie--and her mother walking along city streets; they become separated when the child chases after a balloon. Meanwhile, sunny pictures with softer lines and a pastel palette introduce a cheerful bear family, as the youngest bear narrates. As the trio strolls in the park while their porridge cools ("Daddy talked about his work and Mommy talked about her work. I just messed around"), the lost, worried girl enters their welcoming yellow house. The familiar story line plays out and, after the bears return, the startled child darts from the house into the rain-soaked city of graffiti, barbed wire, broken windows, and litter. Browne (My Brother) gives his Goldilocks a happy ending: she runs into her waiting mother's arms as the sun breaks out. The contrast between the threatening city and the bears' warm home adds a provocative layer to the story, underscoring the value and power of family. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)