A few years ago I wrote a post called “The Various Tales of Little Red Riding Hood” about retellings of the well known story. It actually gets the most hits of any blog post that I’ve written. While I’m not on the hunt for more stories about the crimson clad kid, if a great story comes out, I do pay attention. One such story is Alex T. Smith’s Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion.
Right off the bat there are a few noticeable differences in this story versus the traditional version. Little Red is a spunky, intelligent, African girl. The lion is, well, a lion and not a wolf, but more importantly, he doesn’t manage to trick Little Red. Smith uses some creative illustrations to move this story along and capture a completely different tone. The best part, in my opinion, is when Little Red walks into her Auntie’s house, notices the lion, and decides to teach him a lesson.
In most Little Red stories, the wolf somehow manages to trick Little Red into believing that he is her grandmother. Seriously? Are we really supposed to believe that she is completely clueless? That has always been one of my biggest issues with the story. Smith seems to feel the way that I do and turns the story on its head by not have Red fall for the lion’s act. Little Red gives the lion a new hairdo, makes him brush his teeth, and dresses him in a much better outfit until “STOP!” the Lion simply can’t take it anymore. Little Red chastises the lion for trying to eat aunties and children when all he needed to do was ask for some food.
This was an incredibly fun book to read and the illustrations were awesome. I loved that Little Red was full of sass and didn’t let the lion get away with his mischief. As you might recall, I recently wrote about the NC Children’s Book Award where people get to nominate books that are then read aloud and voted on. Not surprisingly, Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion has made it onto the 2017-18 list of nominees. It will be interesting to see how the kids vote this coming year as I have some other favorites on the list.