“Don’t judge a book by its cover” meets “Don’t believe everything you read.”
Loving the color red, reading, and a hood from her grandma earns this white, redheaded, bespectacled heroine the name of Red Reading Hood. Grandma is sick, so Red packs a “treat” and goes to find her. Encountering a wolf, she remembers all the advice she’s read on wild animals, from “stand tall” to “throw rocks.” But this wolf is after more than dinner. At Grandma’s, unable to hold himself back, the disguised lupine pounces on the book in Red’s bag, upsetting the usual fairy-tale format. All ends happily with a storytime (the real Grandma emerging from a wardrobe), though there is a near decapitation thanks to an overzealous man with an axe. Book-smart Red’s—and readers’—expectations are challenged in the face of this unusual bibliophile. Building on this, the simple cartoon art excels in its depiction of the villain. Many a book lover will identify with the wolf rolling on a book like a cat in catnip, reveling in its “new book smell.” Kids familiar with the original tale will find much to enjoy in these unexpected twists and turns.
No shade on books, but it’s real-world experience that saves the day in this alternative fairy-tale romp. (Picture book. 4-7)