Title: Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten!
Author: Trisha Speed Shaskan
Publisher: Capstone
Pub Date: August 1, 2011

Jacob and I love reading funny stories, particularly those that offer a new take on old tales. Red Riding Hood seems to be rising to the height of popularity both among adults (Red Riding Hood, the movie) and children (Hoodwinked), and Honestly, Red Riding Hood Was Rotten by Trisha Speed Shaskan takes full advantage of that. After years of listening to everyone tell the story of the poor little girl and her granny, the wolf finally gets his say. In his version, he was just a poor, hungry vegetarian who happened to love apples, and Red Riding Hood just happened to look like one! Plus, she was a bit of a vain snob, which she apparently got from her dear old granny. Poor Wolf simply had no choice but to eat the both of them. After all, we wouldn’t want him to starve, would we?

Jake and I both thought this re-imagining of the Red Riding Hood tale was pretty funny. The wolf makes some very good points- no one likes a vain person. While I don’t think the author intended to impart any sort of moral of the story, I used it to explain to Jacob that boasting in such a snotty way is a good way to lose friends (or get eaten by wolves! No, I didn’t really say that!). It’s okay to be proud of your accomplishments, but standing around saying “look how pretty I am” is never a good idea. Jake said the ending freaked him out a bit, but not enough to give him nightmares or anything.

The true star of this book, though, are the illustrations, done by Gerald Guerlais. The cover gives you a good idea of what you’ll find inside. All the illustrations are so lush and textured, you want to just reach into the story and touch them. The wolf usually has a disarming goofy grin on his face, although a few times I did think he was kind of creepy looking. But overall, the images were just stunning.

At the end of the book, the author included a few questions to ponder after reading the story. I love when they do this with children’s books because it gives Jake and I more to talk about. One of the questions compares the original story, told from the point of view of an invisible narrator, with this story, told by the wolf, and asks children to decide which one is more truthful. From this, we launched into a discussion about biased and unbiased writing.

Overall, I would recommend this to children who aren’t easily freaked out by the idea of a wolf eating a little girl and her grandmother. Honestly, though, Red Riding Hood totally WAS rotten, and I don’t blame the wolf for eating her!