A modern, urban, dream-and-nightmare scenario for Red Riding Hood, with a television-show ending.
The story is told by a tiny woman knitting in a pool of light, surrounded by children, possibly in a classroom or play group. Sophia lives with her mother and sister in a high-rise apartment, and her mother sends her off with honey and biscuits in her backpack for her grandmother on the other edge of the forest—the “forest” being a gritty urban environment with echoes of the seedier ends of London or New York. Innocenti creates a darkly fabulous urban landscape full of traffic, litter, graffiti and raucous advertisements in many languages. When Sophia reaches The Wood, a Times Square–like habitat where “[a]lmost anything you want can be had,” she finds her favorite shop, full of action figures and heroines, but loses her way. A motorcycle gang surrounds her, but she is rescued by a dark figure who takes her most of the way to her grandmother’s and then….The final scene finds Nana’s trailer surrounded by police cars and reporters, and the scarf the teller has been knitting is much, much longer.
Older children, and perhaps even teens, might find this tale much to their liking; some, however, might find its darkness a little too unmitigated, despite the closing sign that says “Happy End.” (Picture book. 8-12)