Now this is fun! A retelling, or maybe reimagining would be a better word for it, of Little Red Riding Hood by Marjolaine Leray, translated by Sarah Ardizzone. Both story and illustrations are pared down to the bare bones, making it deceptively simple.
Little Red Hood is a scribble and a couple of lines, yet she has a huge depth of character and, like Polly, no intention of being eaten. Yet unlike Polly, she has no soft spot for the wolf and no compunction in despatching him. It’s incredible how much you can read in to the angle of her head and jaunty little nose – how can a few lines convey so much expression? The wolf is also wonderfully drawn, with more detail this time. I did wonder if the boys would be scared by him as he’s very fierce, but no. They loved it.
Sarah Ardizzone’s text also perfectly captures the stubbornness of a small girl and the way children can throw you off course with a single well- or ill-timed personal observation. The only minor issue I have with it is that the joined-up handwriting makes it tricky for early readers, but like I said, it’s a minor one.
Brilliant, and as much, if not more, fun for adults as for children. I’m not at all surprised to see from publisher Phoenix Yard’s website that it was shortlisted for the UKLA Children’s Book Awards for 2012.