A splendid starter tale that will prepare children for the many more-complex versions that await.



A solid retelling of the familiar fairy tale geared for younger children.

Ford hews to the basic plot most everyone can tell in their sleep: Little girl wears red hood all the time, is sent to Grandma’s with a basket of goodies and multiple parental warnings, ignores warnings and talks to wolf, etc. For all its familiarity and easy reading level, the text holds itself to a high standard. The “big, bad, wicked old wolf” “slink[s]” out of the woods; Little Red Riding Hood stops to “dilly-dally”; the woodsman investigates the “commotion” inside Grandma’s house. Understated humor keeps the tone light: “Although it was a little dim inside, [Little Red Riding Hood] could see that her grandmother looked a bit strange.” The canonical dialogue between Red and the wolf is preserved, though parents uneasy about the traditional ending will be happy to find that this wolf has a zipper in his belly through which Grandma exits bloodlessly. Knight’s watercolors are bright and cheery, the figures defined by thick, confidence-inspiring black lines. They vary from double-page spreads to vignettes that align themselves on the large white pages with the text, which is set in a comfortably large font with lots of space between the lines, making this a good bet for beginning readers as well.

A splendid starter tale that will prepare children for the many more-complex versions that await. (Picture book/fairy tale. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 2, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-907967-38-2

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Boxer Books

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2013

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Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun.


From the Clothesline Clues series

Heling and Hembrook’s clever conceit challenges children to analyze a small town’s clotheslines to guess the job each of their owners does. 

Close-up on the clothesline: “Uniform and cap, / an invite for you. / Big bag of letters. / What job does she do?” A turn of the page reveals a macro view of the home, van and the woman doing her job, “She is a mail carrier.” Indeed, she can be spotted throughout the book delivering invitations to all the rest of the characters, who gather at the end for a “Launch Party.” The verses’ rhymes are spot-on, though the rhythm falters a couple of times. The authors nicely mix up the gender stereotypes often associated with several of these occupations, making the carpenter, firefighter and astronaut women. But while Davies keeps uniforms and props pretty neutral (he even avoids U.S. mail symbols), he keeps to the stereotypes that allow young readers to easily identify occupations—the farmer chews on a stalk of wheat; the beret-wearing artist sports a curly mustache. A subdued palette and plain white backgrounds keep kids’ focus on the clothing clues. Still, there are plenty of details to absorb—the cat with arched back that anticipates a spray of water, the firefighter who “lights” the rocket.

Pair this with Leo Timmers’ Who Is Driving? (2007) for twice the guessing fun. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: July 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-58089-251-3

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: May 16, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2012

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The action of this rhymed and humorous tale centers upon a mouse who "took a stroll/through the deep dark wood./A fox saw the mouse/and the mouse looked good." The mouse escapes being eaten by telling the fox that he is on his way to meet his friend the gruffalo (a monster of his imagination), whose favorite food is roasted fox. The fox beats a hasty retreat. Similar escapes are in store for an owl and a snake; both hightail it when they learn the particulars: tusks, claws, terrible jaws, eyes orange, tongue black, purple prickles on its back. When the gruffalo suddenly materializes out of the mouse's head and into the forest, the mouse has to think quick, declaring himself inedible as the "scariest creature in the deep dark wood," and inviting the gruffalo to follow him to witness the effect he has on the other creatures. When the gruffalo hears that the mouse's favorite food is gruffalo crumble, he runs away. It's a fairly innocuous tale, with twists that aren't sharp enough and treachery that has no punch. Scheffler's funny scenes prevent the suspense from culminating; all his creatures, predator and prey, are downright lovable. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: June 1, 1999

ISBN: 0-8037-2386-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1999

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