Little Red Riding Hood (retold by Susanna Davidson) – Picture Book
For the past two weeks bedtime stories have been dominated by one book. Little Red Riding Hood. My two and a half year old, Miss Beany, is completely obsessed with this book. I have even tried hiding it under the bed, but she can sense its whereabouts with her toddler tracking beacon.
Now obsession is a strange concept for us as parents, as Miss Beany has no affinity for anything apart from her mummy (naturally) and doughnuts. Even stuffed toys are mere acquaintances to her, and she would unfriend them in a heartbeat should a doughnut come along.
But Little Red Riding Hood, she could quite happily read four or five times a night and again at breakfast. Even after lights out she wants me to tell it to her again from memory. On a few occasions I have left her to it, only to come back around 10pm and find her sleeping with the book on her head. Is she trying to take it in by osmosis?
Its a re-telling of a classic. Little Red Riding Hood has to take her Grandmother some Brussel Sprout Soup – for no particular reason – other than a lovely visit. I remember other versions that Granny was sick or lonely – hence Little Red’s visit. The wolf tracks her from the outset, but as the woods are dark, the wolf soon loses her. When he finds her again he realises that he can get a nice 2 for 1 meal if he gets to Granny first. Both Granny and Little Red are gobbled up, only to be rescued by the Woodcutter and his scissors. The resourceful Little Red fills up the wolf’s tummy with stones so he can never surprise anyone – or more importantly – eat red meat again. And so he, and his offspring are condemned to lives as vegetarians and Brussel Sprout Soup.
The nuts and bolts:
Its a great re-telling by Susanna Davidson. Funny, quirky and engaging. With lots of added comments from the characters. Although where is the daddy? I always feel a pang of guilt when I read that Little Red Riding hood lives with just her mummy – so many books forget the daddy characters.
But despite this oversight, I feel Susanna has really spent time really getting the practicalities of this story right. If you are walking into a deep dark wood – you probably wouldn’t see a wolf. So naturally, this Little Red Riding Hood, trips over him. Although it doesn’t help that her eyes are closed Mr Illustrator!!! Yes you – Mike Gordon. Little girls “skippety-skippety, skip[ping]” on forest walks need to keep their eyes open.
Mummy’s favourite bits?
- Miss Beany loves saying the “Ow! Argh! Oof!” of the wolf, as Little Red stumbles into the wolf, treading on his toes and bashing him with her basket.
- Good language to introduce to a toddler and some that I don’t often use, like “stumble,” “leaped,” “gobbling”. Miss Beany loves the word gobbling.
- Brussel Sprout Soup – a long forgotten recipe from the 17th century? I feel the wolf in this story gives it a bad rep. I love brussel sprouts. They are baby cabbages, what’s not to love. And paired with bacon. Yuuuuummmmy. However, Miss Beany thinks that all soup is now Brussel Sprout flavoured.“Look mummy, baby wolves eating bix. He’s eating bix, he’s eating more bix, and he’s eating bix. All eating bix.”
“That’s Brussel Sprout Soup, honey”
“Wolf eating soup, he’s eating soup, all eating soup.”
Miss Beany’s Favourite Bits?
- She is fascinated with the Wolf. All day every day she is on the lookout for wolves. She is delighted when she can tell me she has found one. Does she relate to him more than Little Red Riding Hood? I can’t really tell, except that she did have a preference for a Red coat when we were shopping in TK Maxx the other day. She also prefers dinosaurs to fairy princesses…should I be worried? I don’t even know what the ramifications are? Is she just incredibly empathetic to a poor starving wolf? I feel this needs more psychological analysis at bedtime tonight.
Not So Favourite Bits?
- I fear that in the night we will be woken up by the sound of snip snip snipping of teddy bear bellies.Miss Beany: “Mummy, I want to do cutting?”
Mummy: “Er…ok? What do you want to cut?”
“Phew, I mean, ok darling.”
“What shall we make? A dinosaur card? A magic tree?”
“What about play-dough instead?”
- In my previous life as a trainer, we would evaluate every resource or slide for the learning outcome. I’m not sure that a toddler is old enough to understand that they shouldn’t talk to strangers. It’s difficult when you are also trying to teach them how to interact and be polite to people.
- Miss Beany talks to everyone. And I mean everyone. She is as bad as my parents for keeping me waiting, talking to check-out works, the postman, old women in the street. I love that she is so friendly to everyone. Occasionally taking them by surprise with her little “Hello’s”. I would never have thought of striking up a conversation with a ‘heavily tattooed death metal fan’ in a tiny lift – but Miss Beany chatted to him as if he were a long lost relative. But maybe with this story I can occasionally let her know that there are Wolves about, without changing her personality too much.
The Mummy Score?
- 7/10 – one mark off for scissor cutting peril, one mark off for bad surgical stitching and post-operative care and one mark off for the omission of the daddy.
The Toddler Score?
- “All the scores out of ten mummy”