Schwartz and Santat deliver a powerful karate chop of a picture book to fracture the familiar “Little Red Riding Hood” story.
Hot on the heels of their successful Three Ninja Pigs (2012), this tale sees the hungry wolf enrolling in karate class to add some new skills to his predatory ways. Told in verse that adopts the lilting rhythm of a limerick, the humorous text pairs with digital art that bears the mark of Santat’s animation background. The lupine antihero trains and then goes into the woods, where he encounters Little Red Riding Hood. In a familiar turn, he distracts her on her journey to Grandma’s house with a flower-picking errand—but when he races off to the cottage ahead of her, he finds that Grandma is gone. Lo and behold, when the girl arrives, she does not need a woodcutter to save her because she has trained at ninja school, too. Grandma shows up fresh from practicing tai chi just in time to see Red subdue the wolf and then extract a promise that he will become a vegetarian and take up yoga. An unfortunate mishmash of Eastern religions and traditions emerges from this tale, but the absurdity of the story’s twists and turns helps to mitigate this gaffe.
As silly a trip to grandma’s house as there ever was. (Picture book. 4-7)