Review of the Day: Little Red Riding Hood (Part Two)
As one of those artists that model their characters on real people, Little Red and her mother were indeed based on a woman and her daughter than Mr. Pinkney knew. The fact that this is a biracial family is just a nice plus, really. Ask me to come up with fairy tales featuring multi-ethnic families and I would admittedly be a little hard pressed. Kudos on that account and kudos on the illustrations in general. One of the joys of using all this white is that Mr. Pinkney’s carmine red cape stands out even more strongly than it would against lush green foliage. Your eye is instantly drawn to the color, no matter what other action there may be elsewhere. I appreciated that the wolf was drawn as a real creature too. There’s nothing cartoony to it. Even when it slips into the grandmother’s spare hat and nightgown, what you are facing is a wild animal through and through. It’s a balance between the realistic and the kid-friendly that allows the book to work. Too scary and you lose your audience. Too silly and you betray the author’s style. Pinkney even gets cinematic with some of his scenes. When the wolf is about to enter the house you see the back of it at the door, and a shadow against the wood that shows what is going to occur mere moments in the future. And the aforementioned shadow of the woodcutter whacking the beejezus out of the wolf felt just a mite bit Hitchcockian.
If you were to ask me what my favorite picture book version or variation of the Little Red Riding Hood story was, I would still have to side with Ed Young’s magnificent “Lon Po Po”. Pinkney, however, is now running a close second with this lovely new adaptation. There may be people out there who squirm and squeal at the “Grimm” nature of this story, but people have always felt this way about the Little Red Riding Hood story. There’s a reason that the film “Hoodwinked” and the “Sister Grimm” book series cast Little Red as the villain. Fairy tales aren’t the light and fluffy balls of sugar people would have of them all the time. Sometimes it’s nice to find a version that shakes things up a bit. Credit Jerry Pinkney, then, with some serious two-handed shaking.
On shelves October 1st.
Filed under: Reviews
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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