cover image Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

Lisa Campbell Ernst. Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, $16 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80145-7

These are desperate times for big bad wolves-heroines just don't act dainty and frightened anymore. In this witty version of the classic fairy tale, set among America's amber waves of grain, Grandma drives a tractor and doesn't think much of pesky predators. One day, Little Red Riding Hood-nicknamed for her scarlet sweatshirt-decides to take some wheat berry muffins (made from a secret recipe) to Grandma's prairie home. As she pedals her bike through the fields, she meets the wolf, who learns of her plan. This gives the wolf an idea: ``[I'll] surprise that feeble old granny and steal her recipe.... Soon I'll hold the secret to those delectable muffins.'' Grandma, of course, is having none of it. After striking terror into the wolf's heart she shares a batch of muffins with him, then puts him to work in her kitchen. Ernst's (Ginger Jumps) smooth pastel, ink and pencil illustrations, rendered in dry-grass gold, aqua blue and soft green, suggest the ever-so-slightly rolling terrain of the Midwest; the full-bleed spreads, with rectangular windows for the text, are artfully composed. Best of all, the author includes the secret recipe for wheat berry muffins-they're delicious. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)