From the Publisher:
“On her way to Grandma’s house, Little Red Riding Hood meets a wolf. Now, that might scare some little girls–but not this little girl! She knows just what the wolf is up to, and she’s not going to let him get away with it. In this updated fairy tale with a mischievous twist, talented newcomer Bethan Woollvin uses sly humor, striking visuals, and a dark irreverence to turn a familiar tale on its head.”
***Note:*** This story does not shy away from the violence of the original story. Grandma does get eaten, and Little Red does kill the wolf. The image of Grandma being eaten is not bloody, but she is shown being popped into the wolf’s mouth. An axe is shown, and the final page shows Little Red coming home in her “wolf cloak”. It is perhaps not a picture book for the very young.
In this rendition, the basic storyline from the classic 17th Century folk tale is not much changed, but it has a witty and dark twist at the end that softer and tamer versions of the story do not have. The striking black, white, and red folk art illustrations (reminiscent of gouache cut-block printing) and careful pacing are what make this a picture book to note. Much is conveyed by facial expressions and clues in the illustrations. Little Red does not need a woodcutter’s help to overpower the wolf – she uses her powers of observation and makes use of what is at hand (an axe – off camera) to triumph over the wolf. The story conveys a strong message of the capabilities of girls. It uses dark humour to create tension and captivate the reader, and the sly humour makes this title stand out from other recent re-tellings of the story.
I made the cardinal error of not reading this first before starting it with my two year old. I only knew enough to know it was a re-telling of the classic folk tale. I should have waited a few more years for my daughter to be ready for some of the more mature messages and images. She did not like the image of Grandma being eaten by the wolf and did not understand the jump from Little Red looking askance at the axe and then walking home in a wolfskin cloak. I did not elaborate or make the connections for her. In the end, Grandma is not mentioned again, and we are left to assume she is really dead. Regardless, my teacher brain was full of ideas to use this title with older kids in art class and to to re-inforce messages of the importance of critical thinking and problem solving. A rich reading experience for older kids and school-aged children.
- strong message about the capabilities of girls
- captivating illustrations – much conveyed in facial expressions
- violence/hinted death (not really a dislike, but need to be warned)
- Grandma’s unresolved/unmentioned death
Why/How Use it with kids:
- art – explore telling (or re-telling) a story with only 3 colours
- have/help kids identify a time when they solved a problem for themselves or overcame an obstacle. Why is this important?
- explore the “original” versions of other folk tales and fairy tales. Why did so many of them have such violence? (teaching morals/lessons/truths/consequences). Compare them to many modern versions (Disney, etc.). Why have we changed them?
Book Trailer from Two Hoots :
About the Author:
Bethan Woollvin studied illustration at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge and won the won the Macmillan Prize for Illustration in 2014 for Little Red. She is the eldest in a family of ten children and lives in Brighton, UK.
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