Sunday, 8 March 2015

Little Red Riding Hood: Not Quite: book review

Little Red Riding Hood: Not Quite   Yvonne Morrison   Donovan Bixley 

Little Red Riding Hood: Not Quite (2015) Yvonne Morrison, ill. Donovan Bixley, Scholastic NZ, Auckland NZ, 32 pages paperback  ISBN  978 1 77543 263 0

“Once upon a time there was a girl called Little Red Riding Hood.”

“Why was she called that?”

Those who have read the witty The Three Bears…Sort Of (2013) by the same co-conspirators, will know what to expect. New readers are in for a delightful surprise. As a parent patiently tries to tell the traditional fairy story, a sharp-witted child – here identified only as “Small Polka Dot Blue Pyjamas” – keeps asking pertinent questions.

“Don’t wolves ordinarily hunt in packs?”

“So, this wolf can talk?”

The hapless parent battles on through the cross-examination, even coping when the child points that a wolf couldn’t swallow a grandmother. And a wolf looks very different from a grandmother.

“Little Red’s a bit slow isn’t she?”

The parent battles on to what can only be described as an unexpectedly happy conclusion to a sprightly, imaginative and off-beat re-telling.

There are many delightful details in both Donovan Bixley’s illustrations and Yvonne Morrison’s text.  In a fashion magazine, we can just see that Robyn’s Hoods of High Street advertises hooded capes in both Grey Wolf and Gullible Red shades. A wall-paper pattern conceals a wolf’s head in its leafy pattern, while Granny’s oven-hinges are distinctly lupine. One page even has cheerfully retro-style pictures of Granny and the Wolf in a perfect re-creation of a Little Golden Books illustration.  Little Red Riding Hood: Not Quite is a book that improves on each reading, and enables both parent and child to laugh – though not always at the same time.

Trevor Agnew 

24 Feb 2015


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