Three Billy Goats Gruff | Modern Interpretations

The story of Three Billy Goats Gruff and its themes have appeared in literature and other forms of art. This page provides a small discussion of some of the better known treatments by authors and other artists.

Modern Interpretations

Bach, Shelby. Of Giants and Ice (Ever Afters). New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. Buy the book in ebook or hardcover or paperback.

Bach, Shelby. Of Witches and Wind (Ever Afters). New York: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013. Buy the book in ebook or hardcover or paperback.

This series offers a large range of fairy tales with many tales referenced or used to drive the plot. The second book's cover references the Three Billy Goats Gruff.

NOVEL: Description for Of Giants and Ice: When Rory realizes fairy tales are the real deal at Ever After School, she embarks on a classic quest to fulfill her destiny in this “fast-paced combination of middle school realism and fairy-tale fantasy” (Kirkus Reviews). Rory Landon has spent her whole life being known as the daughter of a famous movie star mom and director dad. So when she begins a new after-school program and no one knows who her family is, Rory realizes something is different. After she ends up fighting a fire-breathing dragon on her first day, she realizes the situation is more unusual than she could have imagined. It turns out the only fame that matters at Ever After School is the kind of fame earned from stories Rory thought were fictional. But as Rory soon learns, fairy tales are very real—and she is destined to star in one of her own. This first installment of The Ever Afters series reimagines classic fairy tale characters in a modern context, merging familiar fantasy with the everyday realities of middle-grade existence.



Troll Bridge : A Rock'n' Roll Fairy Tale by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple

Yolen, Jane and Adam Stemple. Troll Bridge: A Rock'n' Roll Fairy Tale. New York: Starscape, 2006. Buy the book in hardcover.


The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Mary Finch

Clough, Brenda W. How Like a God. New York: Tor, 1997. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.

NOVEL: Fantasy. From "Rob Lewis, an ordinary computer programmer with a wife and two kids, becomes something extraordinary one day after he wakes up and discovers he can read--and control--other people's minds. It's an ability most people dream of having, but for Rob it quickly destroys his life. There is a death, injuries, the threat of warping the lives of his children. Rob flees to New York where, homeless and destitute, he contacts Edwin Barbaross of the National Institutes of Health. Together they travel to Uzbekistan, where Rob will face both the source of his powers and his own inner demons."



Snow White, Blood Red

Gaiman, Neil. "Troll Bridge." Snow White, Blood Red. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. New York: Avon, 1995. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.



Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times by James Finn Garner

Garner, James Finn. "The Three Codependent Goats Gruff." Politically Correct Bedtime Stories: Modern Tales for Our Life and Times. New York: Hungry Minds Inc, 1994. Buy the book in hardcover. 


Goldilocks on Management: 27 Revisionist Fairy Tales for Serious Managers

Mayer, Gloria Gilbert and Thomas Mayer. "The Three Billy Goats Gruff." Goldilocks on Management: 27 Revisionist Fairy Tales for Serious Managers. New York: American Management Association, 1999. Buy the book in hardcover. 



Tales From the Brothers Grimm and Sisters Weird by Vivian Vande Velde

Vande Velde, Vivian. "The Bridge." Tales From the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace, 1995. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback. 


Black Heart, Ivory Bones edited by Datlow and Windling

Waldrop, Howard. "Our Mortal Span." Black Heart, Ivory Bones. Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling, eds. New York: Avon, 2000. Buy the book in paperback.



Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Stories by Jane Yolen

Yolen, Jane. "The Bridge's Complaint." Twelve Impossible Things Before Breakfast: Stories. New York: Harcourt Children's Books, 1997. Buy the book in hardcover or paperback.



None so far!

Also see Snow White on the Folklore and Fairy Tale Music page.

I have listed primarily classical compositions of music using the themes of this fairy tale in either ballet, opera or some other musical style. I have also provided links to popular recordings of the music when available at The advantage to these links is that you can listen to samples of the music at no charge.


None so far!


To learn more about these films, please visit the
Internet Movie Database.


Fairy Tales (BBC One)

Billy Goat (2007/8). Jeremy Dyson, writer. Hat Trick/BBC Northern Ireland Production for BBC One.

The fourth fairy tale in the BBC Fairy Tales anthology is Billy Goat. The writer of Billy Goat, Jeremy Dyson (co-creator Funland, The League Of Gentlemen) says:

"I was a big fan of fairy tales when I was younger, they were my first literary love. I had a small collection of the Ladybird editions – the ones with the scary, photo-realistic illustrations of talking wolves and cats and suchlike. Aside from Billy Goats Gruff, I was a big fan of Red Riding Hood – mainly for the wolf."

Jeremy's reworked version brings the story up-to-date and centres on Billy Goat, a boy band made up of brothers Connor (Paul Nicholls) and Dean Gruff (Mathew Horne) and friend Rafiq Bhavani (played by newcomer Nick Mohammed).

They enjoy local success in Northern clubs but crave pastures new and fame and fortune.

"I am an avid X-Factor viewer and when Billy Goat was taking shape I'd just started watching the last series. There's no doubt it fed into the conception of the story," says Jeremy.

However, there is one major stumbling block, their manager is a troll. In this world, trolls live side-by-side with humans and Billy Goat are unfortunate enough to have bagged a canny and threatening troll as their manager, Grettongrat, played by Bernard Hill.

As to the enduring quality of fairy tales, Jeremy comments: "Simply put they endure because they articulate durable truths about the human condition. They are deceptively simple on the surface, but full of richness and complexity underneath. They tend to rewrite themselves for each generation, like all the best stuff does."

"The Three Billy Goat's Gruff is a good example – on the surface a simple story about some goats wanting some nicer grass – but something about it gets under your skin. Has the troll really done anything so bad to deserve being butted into the water (and drowning as he does in the proper version of the story)? Isn't the big Billy Goat a little bit greedy to want all that new grass when there's nothing wrong with the field?"



The Three Billy Goats Gruff: A Folktale Play for Children

Mutz, Martha. The Three Billy Goats Gruff: A Folktale Play for ChildrenLos Angeles: Curiosity Canyon Press, 1996. Buy the book in paperback.

PLAY: A play written for children to perform.

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