A metafictive examination of “Little Red Riding Hood.”
The book opens and closes with a cartoon-style dog and cat—the main characters—discussing the endpapers on the endpapers. They also appear on the title page, the cat with dripping paintbrush in paw, apparently having just finished painting the title. The story begins in earnest as the cat reads “Little Red Riding Hood” aloud to the dog, the text of the tale appearing as a printed sheet of paper, which appears along with the dog and cat against the white background. Believing Little Red to be a superhero, the dog asks what her special power is. The cat explains that Little Red has no superpowers, but the dog continues to drive the cat to distraction. Interestingly, while the grandmother hides in a closet and so avoids being eaten, Little Red’s father appears and cuts off the wolf’s head before Little Red is swallowed—a strange deus ex machina salvation that is not quite as violent as the original story. (It’s violent enough for the dog to question the story’s appropriateness for children, however.) The use of minimal color and objects in the illustrations, coupled with the sometimes-advanced humor, suits the book to older readers with prior knowledge of both fairy tales and superheroes and maturing attention spans. Unfortunately, the book is more metafiction than story, making it feel more an exercise than, well, a book.
Too smart for its own good. (Picture book. 5-9)