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LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD by Charles Perrault


by Charles Perrault & illustrated by Beni Montresor

Age Range: 7 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-385-41212-6
Publisher: Doubleday

 In his introduction to this ``beautiful, violent tale,'' Luciano Pavarotti suggests that these illustrations ``will leave you breathless.'' That's an understatement. For many, Perrault's original version will be unfamiliar--it concludes with the wolf eating Red Riding Hood (in this faithful, economical translation, ``devouring'' her). Montresor--an admired set designer as well as a Caldecott medalist (1965)--provides a theatrical setting with elegant architectural forms and a stylized forest in finely detailed black touched with soft color; the dapper, white-suited wolf is an appealingly furry seducer, his victim a blond innocent. The illustrations deliberately refer to DorÇ's famous engravings (1867); two of the most dramatic poses are almost identical to DorÇ, but Montresor carries the tale into the 20th century with his extraordinary final pictures: the wolf swallowing the child as an act of love as well as ferocity; then three textless spreads of Red Riding Hood, unhurt, within the complacent wolf like a child awaiting birth, floating pure on a field of scarlet that recalls her cloak. In the last, the huntsman-savior appears in a pillar of light. Some will be troubled by the terror and sexuality in these brooding, exquisite illustrations; others will respond to their beauty and to the skill with which the artist has revealed the tale's mythic power. Definitely not for preschoolers, but a valid interpretation to fascinate and challenge older readers. (Folklore/Picture book. 7+)