Both quirky and silly, this table-turning version of Little Red Riding Hood from a sibling team (Cinderella: An Art Deco Love Story ) features a boy hero who saves his grandmother from the wicked wolf with a fizzy bottle of ginger ale. The story begins traditionally: "In a time not too long ago and in a land much like our own, there lived a young boy." But David Roberts makes an immediate departure with campy artwork brimming with visual humor and early Americana. The text reads, "His name was Thomas, but--for some reason--everyone called him Little Red," opposite an illustration of a saucer-eyed child in a red room filled with red toys. While a woman in his parents' inn tells Thomas tales of "dangerous encounters with dashing highwaymen," a masked man sits half-hidden behind a newspaper. (The top story is about Ben Franklin's proposal to make the turkey America's national bird.) Throughout, the edgy illustrations complement the wry, understated text. When the inept wolf swallows the grandmother in her hoop skirt, he looks more like a red jacketed vacuum cleaner than the scary garden-variety villain. In the All-the-better-to-eat-you scene, the wolf, sporting Grandma's wig and lorgnette, is eventually outfoxed by quick-witted Little Red. The boy's ginger ale makes the creature burp up his grandmother as if she were a cannon ball. This riff on the original has pizzazz (and fizz). Ages 4-9. (Sept.)[Page 56]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Gr 1-4 -Thomas, aka Little Red, makes the mistake of taking off his red jacket while climbing a tree for some apples for his Grandma. A wolf shows up at Grandma's wearing the coat, and-well, you know the rest. The gentle twists on this tale maintain the menacing tone of the original (Grandma does get eaten, in a single gulp), while allowing the wolf to live at the end, content with the ginger ale that Little Red provides for him. This is the third folktale retelling that the Robertses have put their pen and brush to. Having set Cinderella (2001) in the 1930s, and Rapunzel (2003, both Abrams) in the 1970s, they've headed back in time to a Colonial setting, giving Little Red innkeeper parents and Grandma a powdered wig. The stylized pen, ink, and watercolor illustrations use small detail and dramatic perspective to heighten the spooky, Tim Burtonesque effect. Faces hidden in the forest and paneled walls and illustrative asides (famous paintings, a newspaper headline quoting Benjamin Franklin) build visual richness. The frightening, red forest scenes on the endpapers will be devilishly alluring to young readers who like just a little scare with their somewhat silly and comfortingly well-known tales. A very welcome addition to most folktale shelves.-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA[Page 120]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.