16 June 2011

Cloaked in Red

Everyone knows the story of Little Red Riding Hood, the girl with the unfortunate name and the inability to tell the difference between her grandmother and a member of a different species.

The question is: Why do we all know it?

If you look at "Little Red Riding Hood," it's a perfect example of the exact opposite of a good story...

...However you look at it, "Little Red Riding Hood" is a strange and disturbing story that should probably not be shared with children.

That is why I've gone ahead and written eight new versions of it.
In her introductory author's note to Cloaked in Red, Vivian Vande Velde lays out exactly how "Little Red Riding Hood" fails as a good story. Much like she did with The Rumplestiltskin Problem she then takes a familiar tale and turns it on its head, retelling it over and over, each story a fresh take on stale characters. Whether it's Granny as a werewolf or the brothers Grimm as bumbling young fools who will never amount to much, Vande Velde plays with the conventions of traditional fairy tales in a way that will delight readers.
My personal favorite (I think) is "Deems the Wood Gatherer," which features a woodcutter with exceptionally bad eyesight who unwittingly stumbles through several fairy tales, leaving chaos in his wake.
At just over 100 pages, this slender volume of short stories would be a great choice for reluctant readers. Besides being great fun, it could also be a jumping off point for young writers to try their own retellings of classic tales. Definitely worth reading.


hijoi said...

I think I need to start a list of books that I want based on your reviews. It would just be easier. Thanks for doing part of my job for me.

emily said...

I think that i need to start a list to