Three Billy Goats Gruff

Mention the words “courage” and “stories” in the same breath and someone will ask, “Are you going to tell the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff?”

Yes. Yes I will.

This tale from Norway, by the way, is an excellent story to tell by acting it out. If you happen to have three kids you can direct them in a play. If you don’t know the story, don’t worry – the part you are to play will become quite clear!

On a fine summer day, three billy goats gruff looked up at the hillside across the stream and decided the grass looked very nice over there. So the youngest billy goat set out across the wooden bridge, trip-trap-trip. Beneath the bridge lived one of the ugly trolls who dwell in the mountains of Norway, and he pulled himself up onto the bridge by his hairy hands, his long warty nose all a-wobble. “Who’s that crossing my bridge? I’ll eat you up!”

The first billy goat pointed his little horns back the way he had come. “No, wait for the second billy goat. He’s bigger than I am. Let me pass.” And he scampered the rest of the way over the bridge and onto the green hillside.

The second billy goat now stepped onto the bridge, trip-trap-trip. “Who’s that crossing my bridge?” roared the troll. “I’ll eat you up!”

“No, no!” bleated the second billy goat. “Wait for my big brother, he’s much bigger than me!” And off he trotted to the green hillside.

Now the third and biggest billy goat stepped onto the bridge. TRIP-TRAP-TRIP. “Who’s that crossing my bridge!” bellowed the troll. “I’ll gobble you up!”

“I AM CROSSING YOUR BRIDGE!” shouted the third billy goat, “AND YOU’RE NOT EATING ANYONE!” And lowering his head, he charged the troll. With his big curling horns he poked the troll’s eyes out and with his big sharp hooves he trampled the troll to bits and kicked him off the bridge. That was the end of that particular troll, swirling away in pieces down the mountain stream.

And then the third billy goat gruff went to join his brothers in the green grass meadow.

Notice that this story makes no apology for killing the troll. In stories, monsters are to be destroyed, be they dragons or trolls or giants or wolves – or man-eating sharks. Much like Beowulf or Jaws, this is a straightforward story of physical courage. It’s highly satisfying!

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