The Troll by Julia Donaldson
Julia Donaldson, the incredibly popular author of The Gruffalo and The Gruffalo's Child, released her new book, The Troll, last month. While it has very bright, busy and visually arresting illustrations, The Troll suffers from its crossed storylines, that result in a book that seems to be confused about what it is.
The main thread of the story is a retelling of the classic Billy Goats Gruff story. The troll, hearing the goat approach prepares to attack, only to find that he is mistaken and the animal is in fact a mouse or a rabbit. Each animal points him onwards to the next bridge, where he will surely find a goat, until the troll reaches the sea. There he finds a treasure chest full of gold (which he tips into the sea), and, sick of eating fish, climbs into the treasure chest to sleep while he awaits his goat.
The second thread of the story involves a group of pirates, sailing the seas in search of treasure. All are terrible cooks, and each expedition to an island to find the gold results in failure and a member of the crew cooking something awful. Finally they reach the island on which the troll is sleeping and attempt to make him walk the plank. The story is resolved when the crew realise the troll can cook, and make him the ship's cook. The only problem is, they want to eat fish!
Julia Donaldson is well known for her rhyming writing style and this book is a diversion from that. It is quite an entertaining story, and older children may enjoy making the links between what seems like unrelated storylines. Having said that, the story alternates frequently between the troll and the pirates, with not much to indicate that they are the same story until the end of the book, which can become confusing for young readers. We think that the book may have benefited from being two separate stories but nonetheless enjoyed the illustrations and believe it would be a good choice for older readers of picture books.
Reviewed by Joanna@KidsCompass