I had never heard of this book prior to finding it in the stacks on Saturday morning. But I'm always up for a fractured fairy tale, and Miss E enjoys them immensely. I'm glad to have stumbled upon it.
Smith, a Rochester (NY) area teacher, gives Goldilocks a back-story; frustration with her mother's strictness leads her to build a rocket and blast off in search of a planet that is "just right" (with a cat, a dog, and three symbolic teddy bears in tow). The story is told in rhyming quatrains, but these rarely feel forced and read aloud comfortably. Moreover, the rhyme, in combination with Smith's witty diction, sets a playful tone that offsets---even creates dynamic tension with---the moral didacticism of the back-story. Garland's humorous computer-generated illustrations---which seem reminiscent of David Shannon's---have a very similar effect, ultimately making this a delightfully silly-smart book.
Though this book did not win any of the "big" ALA book awards, it did win the Children's Choice Award sponsored by the IRA (International Reading Association) in 2005, and it's easy to see why. More intriguingly, this out-of-print book seems to have become a serious collectors' item, with new copies fetching $700-900 and used copies getting $40-200+, rare indeed for a picture book of such recent vintage. My guess is that it's become a kind of cult favorite.
Miss E's take: Her favorite part, she says, is the beginning, where Goldilocks feels oppressed by household chores. Why? "Because she's just like Cinderella!" Duh, Mom.
Bonus: In this book's tour of the solar system, Pluto is still a planet!! Huzzah!
Another Bonus: Smith's website has useful resources for teachers as well as a child-friendly slideshow on how children's books are published