cover image Very Little Red Riding Hood

Very Little Red Riding Hood

Teresa Heapy, illus. by Sue Heap. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-544-28000-7

Very Little Red Riding Hood, the toddler who stars in British author Heapy’s retelling (first in a planned series), is all ready to go to Grandmama’s for a sleepover, and she’s full of love. When she meets the wolf, she leaps on him: “A Foxie!” she says in delight. “No touch my cakes!” she orders. When Grandmama is nonplussed by the wolf in her doorway, Very Little Riding Hood explains, “Oh, Gramma, it’s only Foxie.” The three play hide-and-seek, dance, and draw until there’s a toddler meltdown: “I don’t know where is my Mummy,” she weeps. “Oh, what big, wet eyes you have,” starts the Wolf. “Oh, what a big, snotty nose you have.” Will the Wolf’s instinctive cruelty finally surface? Not to worry. Heap’s childlike watercolor-and-ink spreads subtly signal contemporary life with props like Very Little Riding Hood’s wheeled carry-all and Gramma’s casual sweater and slacks. Heapy’s toddler speech has the ring of authenticity, and it’s not a parody, either. Rather, Heapy swaps a delightful new character into an old story and follows her wherever she leads. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)