Saturday, January 23, 2016

‘Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood’

Book cover: Red, the True Story of Red Riding Hood, by Liesl Shurtliff. Image depicts a young girl wearing a blue dress and red hooded cape. Her black hair blows free from beneath the hood of her cape. In the background is a wooded scene with a wolf peering at her from around the back of a tree trunk
I never tire of reading contemporary fiction based on European fairy tales. So often, authors come up with a fresh angle of presenting the traditional story.

Liesl Shurtliff has done exactly that with Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood (Random House Children’s, April 12, 2016). As readers may expect, Red sets out to visit her grandmother’s house — but while a wolf howls in the woods, it doesn’t dress up as Granny. Instead, Granny disguises herself as a wolf to deter nuisance visitors.

Granny’s reputation as a witch attracts various people who want spells and potions.

Red, too, has potential as a magic user, but her early attempts had disastrous results, and Red is deeply afraid that she will hurt people with magic.

When Granny falls ill, Red is afraid she’ll lose her. So fearful is Red at the prospect of Granny dying that, in spite of her fear of doing magic, Red sets out on a journey to find magical items that will prevent Granny’s death.

With Red is Goldie, a girl who came seeking a magic potion from Granny.

From start to finish, I enjoyed this unique retelling of the story of “Red Riding Hood.” As the story develops, it intersects several other fairy tales as well, including “Snow White” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

What I found most potentially empowering for girls is that the female characters embark on quests, make mistakes and and solve problems for themselves. Even with the stories in which a prince traditionally played a part, there are no princes to rescue them. This book would make a great addition to a library for its portrayal of self-reliant women and girls.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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