cover image Little Red Riding Hood

Little Red Riding Hood

Jacob Ludwig Carl Grimm, Wilhelm Grimm. Abbeville Kids, $6.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-7892-0421-9

These four classics illustrated by French artists, components of the Little Pebbles series, appear in an inviting design and intimate trim size. Each volume delivers a well-known story with evocative artwork. For Little Red Riding Hood, Martin employs an angular cartoon style and pure-black charcoal line that resembles Art Spiegelman's work. Roederer works in a waxy, vivid medium to create a rustic French countryside for Puss in Boots and a cozy domestic space for Goldilocks; her faultless eye for color recalls Bonnard or Matisse. In Mathieu's The Three Little Pigs, the porcine siblings cavort in precisely detailed woodsy watercolors; every yellow filament of straw, brown wooden board and reddish brick is closely observed, and the sympathetic trio stand out in a soft pinkish-brown. Each book concludes with a game: a random series of images that represent moments in the plot (""Can you put them back in the right order?""). The books emphasize the art far more than the words, yet readers will note a few variations from the standard versions of the tales. Wolves, for instance, come to bad ends here: when a huntsman snips open the wolf to free Little Red Riding Hood, he ""did not survive the operation,"" and the Three Pigs' nemesis falls into a pot of boiling water. Further, the Pigs' famous ""not by the hair of my chinny chin chin"" becomes ""not by the hair on my piggy little chin!"" With just those few tweaks, these traditionalist texts provide the bases for refreshing, carefully considered new images. Ages 3-6. (Feb.)