Sunday 24 March 2013

Little Red by Lynn and David Roberts, reviewed by Tamsyn Murray

Little Red is described on the cover as 'A favourite tale with a twist' and that pretty much sums this attractive picture book up. As you might guess, it's a retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and stars a boy called Thomas (AKA Little Red) as the eponymous main character. The action has been relocated to an unnamed land 'much like our own', in a time 'not too long ago'. Little Red's parents are innkeepers and brew the finest ginger beer for miles around. The action begins with Little Red heading off to see his grandmother, who lives in the woods, and the story treads a well-worn path. I won't spoil the surprise but the ending has a delightful fizz about it.

What makes this picture book stand out is the gorgeous illustrative style of David Roberts' artwork. Reminiscent of pre-revolution France, with big wigs and ballgowns, they are exquisitely done and really give the familiar story a fresh feel, not to mention an element of darkness that's usually missing in books for this age range. There's an illustrator's note at the back of the book explaining his inspiration, which makes interesting reading.

The are two other retellings in the same series, Cinderella and Rapunzel, and I'll be keeping an eye out for both. Little Red stands out in our book box as something visually different and I'm sure it will be a favourite for years to come.


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