cover image Little Red’s Riding ’Hood

Little Red’s Riding ’Hood

Peter Stein, illus. by Chris Gall. Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-545-60969-2

Stein (Bugs Galore) and Gall (Dinotrux) give a familiar fairy tale an automotive makeover, turning Little Red into a boyish red scooter, making the wolf a monster truck named Tank, and recasting Granny as a pink golf cart. The pages burst with vehicular jokes (Little Red thinks “Something felt out of alignment” upon arriving at Granny Putt Putt’s house, and her bed is a car lift). The result is inspired silliness. The unabashedly broad text taps into the target audience’s burgeoning interest in wordplay and spoofs, while offering opportunities for adults to display their acting and sound-effect chops (“KERRUNCHHA-CHA-CHA!”). But it’s Gall’s bold pictures that give the narrative its horsepower. He imagines the scooter’s hometown of Vroomville as a sprawling, curvilinear fantasyland with gentle hills, zigzagging roads, and car-themed stores like “Spare Attire.” Little Red has bright, expressive headlight eyes, while the hulking Tank is just scary enough—and so big that he can’t be contained on a single page. Ages 3–5. Author’s agents: Adrian Ranta, Wolf Literary Services, and Gillian MacKenzie, Gillian MacKenzie Agency. Illustrator’s agent: George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Feb.)