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The Three Sillies: Author & Story

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

Who's the silliest person you've ever met? In this lesson, we meet three sillies and a man on a quest to find folks even sillier. We'll take a look at the story, and the author who reimagined the English fairy tale.

Complete Silliness

Andrea wakes up early on a steamy Saturday, determined to gather her belongings and head out for a day at the beach. She has packed her cooler with drinks and sandwiches, pulled her chairs out of the closet and loaded the car. Then, she decides to change clothes: not into a bathing suit, but into a heavy sweater and parka. Doesn't this seem like silly behavior for a beach day?

The idea of something or someone being silly means that it's foolish or that an individual is lacking in common sense. In the story we will discuss in this lesson, there's not just one silly character, but many! Let's learn about The Three Sillies' author, Steven Kellogg, and break down his silly story.

Meet the Author

Steven Kellogg learned to love books from an early age, falling in love with illustrations such as those done by Beatrix Potter and creating his own stories and illustrations during playtime with his sisters.

On his website, Kellogg says that during his preschool years he decided that he wanted to make drawing a lifelong pursuit. When he graduated from high school, he proceeded to Rhode Island School of Design, where he was particularly interested in the illustration of picture books (or books of illustrations designed specifically for small children). After a period of studying abroad, Kellogg returned to the United States, simultaneously using his skill to teach as well as submitting his own books to publishers.

His first book was published in 1967. Now, 50 years later, Kellogg is responsible for illustrating more than 100 children's books. Some of Kellogg's more popular titles are works that he's reimagined from fairy and folk tales, like the story of Paul Bunyan, Chicken Little and The Three Little Pigs.

His book, The Three Sillies, is based on an old English fairy tale, reimagined for a new audience.

The Three Sillies

A farmer and his wife are welcoming a young man to their house since he is trying to date their daughter. As they're preparing for dinner, the young woman goes down into the cellar to draw cider for the meal. While she's in the cellar, she spies a mallet hanging from a beam above her head and becomes upset. She begins crying when she thinks about marrying the young man and having a son, who one day might be hit on the head by the mallet.

Wondering what's taking so long, the daughter is joined first by the mother and then by the father. When the young man goes to the cellar to see what's happening, all three are sitting and crying over the thought of the young woman's future son suffering a bump on the head and possibly dying from the hanging mallet.

The young man tells the family members that he has never met anyone sillier than them. He decides to set off on a quest to find three bigger sillies and will return and marry the daughter after he does.

The Quest

In his journey, the young man meets many sillies, including an old woman trying to get her cow to climb up her house's roof to graze on the grass at the top.

One of the three sillies the young man encounters is trying to get her cow on top of her roof.
three sillies, steven kellogg

The second silly he encounters is a man he shares a room with in an inn. The man is trying to put on his pants by jumping into them. The traveler shows the man how to properly put on his pants.

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