cover image Little Red Riding Sheep

Little Red Riding Sheep

Linda Ravin Lodding, illus. by Cale Atkinson. Atheneum, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-5748-4

Enthusiastic Arnold is tired of sheep—such as himself—being relegated to the background in books, so he inserts himself into the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Arnold assures the unseen author-artist that he won’t be sorry for including him, but he soon starts objecting to the familiar beats of the story: the foreboding woods (“Can I erase a tree or two? Bring in some more light...”), the hungry wolf (“I have this friend, Einer. He’s a muskrat and would be perfect as the wolf”), and the questionable plot points (as the wolf, Einer “doesn’t believe in solving problems by eating them”). As Arnold and his friends work their magic, Lodding (Painting Pepette) transforms this classic tale into a clever story about representation and inclusion; Arnold is an avid reader who never sees characters like him take center stage. Atkinson (Maxwell the Monkey Barber) emphasizes Arnold’s unfailing positivity in cheerfully colored, in-your-face digital illustrations that generate a mood of creative chaos. A strong readaloud and excellent starting point for conversations about representation, character, and story. Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Jennifer Unter, Unter Agency. [em](Aug.) [/em]