A wolf coaxes a rabbit into a “Little Red Riding Hood” narrative.
Rabbit’s bored, lying vulnerably on its stomach, longing for something to happen. From off the page, a long, distinctly wolf-shaped shadow falls over him. “Excuse me,” says Wolf, its huge head appearing, “May I help?” Wolf, a self-described librarian, suggests writing a story. “Red Riding Hood” details emerge in dialogue (“What big eyes you have!” “All the better for reading with, my dear”) and potential dress-up costumes (Rabbit considers a space suit or a pirate hat; Wolf smiles subtly when a red cape comes up but discourages it). Rabbit wants a story about space rockets and “LOTS of bananas,” but Wolf pushes a fairy tale with a villain who’s not a mouse, not a pink elephant, but “something medium-size”; credulous Rabbit suggests the Wolf act the part. The line between a story they’re writing and a story they’re in is deliciously fluid. Suddenly the chase is on, and only Rabbit’s imagination can thwart the Wolf. Resurrecting a discarded plot, Rabbit takes care of things handily in a way readers will never see coming. O’Byrne uses mixed media on white backgrounds; fancifully colored tree trunks symbolize a forest. Inconsistent drawing quality seems glaring in the difference between Rabbit, portrayed delicately, and Wolf’s face and snout, which have awkward, rudimentary shapes.
Visually irregular but satisfyingly victorious. (Picture book. 4-7)