Wolves are Not the Problem in ‘Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood’

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Cover of Red: The True Story of Red Riding HoodRed: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff retells “Little Red Riding Hood” as a tale of friendship, mistakes, and accepting imperfection. Red is the granddaughter of the Witch of the Woods; she loves exploring the woods and visiting her grandmother, whom she adores. What she does not love is magic: She is sure that every spell she has ever done has gone awry. Nevertheless, when her grandmother gets very ill and Red thinks she is dying, she sets out to find a magic that keep her alive. Along the way, she meets an annoying, golden-haired girl determined to be her friend, a wolf roaming through the woods, a cross dwarf, and a terrifying huntsman. Her tale intersects those of other familiar characters like Rose Red and Snow White, Beauty and the Beast (also tipped neatly on it side), and Goldilocks and the Three Bears.

Unlike many “true story” fairy tales, Red is not a darker retelling. Things are not worse than the tale we have heard, they are just different. Red’s challenge isn’t the wolf. It’s bigger than that. She has to learn how to accept herself, mistakes and all. She has to learn about getting along with other people, and, most of all, she has to learn to live in a world where things change and die. Big lessons for a young girl, but lessons everyone has to learn sooner or later.

These are big lessons, yet Shurtliff never lets her tale be weighed down by them. Red is still a young girl learning these lessons, and she has a young girl’s viewpoint. Most importantly, while there are several lessons in the story, they never take over. It remains a story to enjoy as well as to ponder.

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood is a recommended for fairy tale and adventure loving children.

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood comes out on April 12, 2016. To order from Amazon, click the link in the title.

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