The Girl in Red

Aaron Frisch, illus. by Roberto Innocenti. Creative Editions, $19.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56846-223-3

Hans Christian Andersen Medalist Innocenti (The House) reworks Little Red Riding Hood in a story narrated, improbably, by a doll-size figure of a grandmother surrounded by a group of children. “Toys can be fun,” the automaton tells them as she knits. “But a good story is magic.” In a series of spreads that cross the busyness of Where’s Waldo? with the bleak commercial dystopia of Blade Runner, Sophia, clad in a red cloak, crosses trash- and graffiti-strewn streets on her way to her Nana’s, dwarfed by buildings and jostled by crowds. Her predator isn’t a wolf but a man with a brush cut and a black coat. Frisch (The Lonely Pine) describes him with a sneer: “A smiling hunter. What big teeth he has. Dark and strong and perfect in his timing.” The traditional tale has several endings, and Frisch offers alternatives as well—first a tragedy (“It is almost morning when a mother’s phone rings”), then a triumph, as police officers capture the man in the black coat. Not a bedtime story, but an opening to hard questions about violence and safety—and about storytelling, too. Ages 8–up. (Nov.)
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