A modern-day Little Red Riding Hood travels through her apartment building.
Violet, a determined girl wearing a short red dress, and her toddler brother, Peter, are exploring their building. Both are white. While pulling Peter’s wagon through the hallway, she starts telling him a familiar tale. In the elevator, they meet a woman with dark brown skin and white hair carrying a dog whose shadow appears to be quite ferocious. When Peter says: “WOOF!” (his only word), Violet assures him (and herself) that it’s not a wolf. Violet informs the woman that they are bringing their sick neighbor Papa Jean-Louis “soup and cookies,” and she responds, “I’ll be heading that way myself.” After traversing deep woods with animals and a “damp, dingy, cave,” they finally reach their destination, where they encounter someone all wrapped up on the couch. Is it Papa Jean-Louis? Or is it a creature with eyes “so big,” “ears so…hairy,” and teeth too sharp? Violet’s storytelling skills and overactive imagination are augmented by the colorful illustrations, done in a naïve style and combining the everyday environment and the fairy-tale world. It’s charming, but it missteps. Violet’s reassuring interjections to Peter during her own narration interrupt the flow of the story, and positioning the two dark-skinned people as objects of fear is unfortunate despite the revelation that they are clearly benevolent.
Neighborliness, sibling friendship, and bits of a fractured fairy tale can’t overcome the book’s limitations. (Picture book. 4-6)