cover image Telling Stories Wrong

Telling Stories Wrong

Gianni Rodari, trans. from the Italian by Anthony Shugaar, illus. by Beatrice Alemagna. Enchanted Lion, $17.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-59270-360-9

In this story about a grown-up who can’t get a simple story right, an excerpt from Rodari’s Telephone Tales, Grandpa, to the exasperated delight of his grandchild, is all mixed up about “Little Red Riding Hood.” As the grandfather changes the story’s details (“there was a girl who was called Little Yellow Riding Hood”), the child’s constant corrections send the story further off the rails. “Oh, right!” Grandpa says again and again, as when informed that Red meets a wolf, not a giraffe, in the woods. “And the wolf asked her: How much is six times eight?” Alemagna’s (Never, Not Ever!) marker- and wash-textured illustrations, predominantly composed of blobs and circles, materialize into both reality (goldenrod-outlined Grandpa’s voluminous hair and mustache, the pink-skinned child’s pink dress and gangly braids) and narrative chaos (an entire thought bubble of Riding Hoods with cloaks of various hues), leading up to a grand finale that shows Grandpa at the helm of a city bus filled with characters who have appeared in his woolgathering. When Grandpa returns to his newspaper, and his grandchild heads to the store with a quarter for bubble gum, a final hug makes it clear that they share the same sense of storytelling mischief. Ages 6–up. (June)