7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #532: Featuring Jerry Pinkney

h1 April 30th, 2017 by jules

“Bravely, that little billy goat Gruff trotted across the bridge.”
(Click to enlarge spread)


Award-winning author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney has taken it upon himself in the past several years to bring us lucky readers a series of classic-tale picture book adaptations, including the 2010 Caldecott-winning The Lion and the Mouse. His latest, coming to shelves in early May, is The Three Billy Goats Gruff (Little, Brown), and it may be my favorite. Because there’s nothing, I have learned, quite like a troll as Pinkney does it. Masterfully-rendered is this troll, as you can see above.

This is the classic tale as we know it — with a few twists, which Pinkney explains in a closing Artist’s Note. (I’m not usually a fan of lengthy notes at the close of a picture book that explain what we’re seeing, but Pinkney always makes it worth your time.) For one, he adds a giant fish to the tale, one that threatens to eat the troll—yes, the troll—near the story’s close, just after the biggest billy goat has defeated the troll. (Pinkney has his reasons for this addition.) For another thing, if you look closely at the closing endpapers, you see that there’s much more to the story: Do the troll and the goats come to some sort of peace in the end? That’s for readers, as Pinkney notes, to decide.

Pinkney packs a lot of action into these spreads, yet he manages to pace it all well. The story brims with energy and movement, and a gatefold flap, right where the biggest billy goat Gruff meets the troll, steals the show. The book plays with font size in effective ways, and Pinkney’s paintings are textured and detailed. I’ve a couple more spreads here to show you what I mean.


‘It is I’, the biggest billy goat announced. …”
(Click to enlarge spread)



(Click to enlarge spread)


THE THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF. Copyright © 2017 by Jerry Pinkney. Illustrations reproduced by permission of the publisher, Little, Brown and Company, New York.

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) Betsy Bird and I pay tribute to the late Peter Sieruta in the latest issue of the Horn Book. I really wish Peter could see that the Horn Book calls him their “funniest writer.”

2) A special project in the works for a friend.

3) I got tickets to see Joan Shelley live in June.

4) I finally got around to ordering a print from Phoebe Wahl at her shop (remember when she was a featured up-and-coming illustrator here at 7-Imp in 2013?), because dang, she’s good.

5) The best cheese enchilada I’ve ever had at Nashville’s Taqueria del Sol.

6) I think this was the very best thing about my week: I read Deborah Heiligman’s Vincent and Theo. It is so good that I devoured that 464-page book in two or three days. More on that later, as I’ll be chatting with her about the book at Kirkus.



7) Yesterday, I caught one of those Facebook live video thingies, to be precise, where Laura Marling was singing one of her lesser-known songs that I love oh-so much, “Daisy.” (The song, not the live one, is below: “A woman alone is not a woman undone.”)



What are YOUR kicks this week?

8 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #532: Featuring Jerry Pinkney”

  1. I am looking forward to adding The Three Billy Goats Gruff to my collection. Gorgeous art.
    Jules, I look forward to reading Theo and Vincent. I will head to the library and reserve after writing my comments.
    My kicks:
    1. Bittersweet but a kick. My poetry collaboration with Christy Peterson has finished for April. I loved researching and writing poems for her critter photos.
    2. Stopping by to see a friend recovering from surgery.
    3. The first ever Silver Star recital with music and poetry kids.
    4. Photography.
    5. Sunshine.
    6. Reactions from people getting their poetry postcards.
    7. Kindergarteners writing poems.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good morning, Imps and goats and Pinkney and people!

    Jules: Yay for tributes and truths.

    Jone: Good thoughts for your friend, and your young poets.

    My kicks:
    1) Sweet
    2) Simple
    3) Share
    4) Speak
    5) Sing
    6) Smile
    7) See

  3. Oh, Jules I have had this book on order. I have been collecting the Pinkney books with joy. Thank you for featuring it here.

    I can’t wait to read your The Horn Book tribute to Peter.

    Oh I agree Jone photography is a way to extend the beauty we see.

    Hooray for smiles Little Willow.

    My kicks:
    1. Spending every Friday with a classroom of third-grade students in Parma, Michigan. Thank you Colby.
    2. Tulips blooming
    3. Cool nights for sleeping
    4. Freshly painted rooms
    5. Bookshelves filled with books
    6. Cardinals
    7. Walking with Mulan

    Have a beautiful week everyone.

  4. That fish is beautifully terrifying, as is that troll. Such gorgeous illustrations.

    Jules- hooray for cheese enchiladas and books that cannot be put down. Adding Vincent and Theo to my TBR list now. Daisy is a lovely song.

    Jone – sunshine, yes. And poetry postcards and recitals.

    LW – love all your kicks this week, but especially 1 & 3 & 6.

    Margie – Tulips, cool nights and dog walks are all lovely things.

    My kicks this week:
    1) A hummingbird in the apple blossoms in the back yard this morning.
    2) Getting my poetry postcard this week.
    3) Won tickets to a summer Country Fest concert off the radio, which was great, & qualifies me to win a trip to Nashvile! (That’s what I really want to win – because then I could maybe take Jules out for cocktails!)
    4) Working my way through Season 2 of Better Call Saul.
    5) Warm homemade wheat biscuits with almond butter.
    6) Spring cleaning & finding old photos.
    7) Impatient Daisy doing her “let’s go for a walk” dance.
    7.5) Ice cream.

    Have a great week Imps!

    Jules – the flowers I planted last week were Sweet Alyssum, Marigolds, and Daisies.

  5. Jone: I’ll have to head to your site to see your collaboration with Christy!

    LW: As always, your kicks read like a free verse poem of sorts.

    Margie: I love to see tweets about you reading to those students.

    Rachel: OH MY GOSH I HOPE YOU WIN THAT CONTEST! How great it’d be to meet you in person! … I really like Better Call Saul. We’re on the new season. It’s a slow burner, huh? The whole show is. …. My husband says I’m not really a Southerner, because I don’t like to eat biscuits alone (I’ll eat them with egg and cheese on them!), but almond butter sounds pretty great. … Your flowers sound so pretty. We have roses in front of our house, which I can’t take credit for. Whoever lived here before planted some bushes. … Hugs to Daisy …

    AND to Mulan!

  6. Jules – The drawing won’t happen until June, after the concert. Everyone who wins tickets is entered, so its about 100 people – not bad odds. Fingers crossed & let’s hope my lucky streak continues. If I win, cocktails on me!!!!

  7. I am stopping by so late, it is not even Sunday, but I just wanted to say that the book looks amazing. Mr. Pinkney just continues to amaze me and inspire us all.
    Nice to see all the kicks!


    Hi, Allison! Here’s the one time I met Jerry in person (2015). I bet he doesn’t remember me, but I sure was happy to meet him:

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