Tag Archives: Little Red Riding Hood

Challenge: Legal Theft: Little Red Dress (658 words)

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On the hottest day of the year, the skirt of my red dress flutters against my thighs in the breeze manufactured by the fan.

Mam bakes when she’s worried, and she hasn’t let the summer heat stop her.

I long for an excuse to escape the sweltering house.

“Mackie, take these cakes to your granny’s, eh?”

Just the excuse I’ve been waiting for.

I grab the basket that Mam holds out and bolt for the door, barely stopping to slam my feet into trainers and grab my purse. Mam’s calling after me. “Straight there and back.”

The heat glaring off of the pavement is only a little cooler than the heat radiating from Mam’s kitchen, but at least here the hot air moves, blown sideways by the wind between the high-rises.

Granny lives ten blocks away. Not far, really, but far enough to make a good walk, especially with Mam’s cake hanging heavy on my arm. I’ve lived in the city as long as I can remember, but still I love the jangle of it, the auto horns calling to one across the blocks like starlings, the groan and rumble of their wheels on the streets, the hawkers calling out wares, the sights, and smells of hot dogs and pretzels and baking asphalt and steel.

There’s a raw tingle up my spine each time I set out into the crowd knowing that I pass and am passed by people I’ll never see again, who’ll never see me again, but that I know these streets as if they were my own, as familiar as the flat I can navigate in the dark, but always changing, never mine, always their own.

Each street has a flavor. Some are bright and sunny and whitewashed: lemon-scented. Some are cluttered with shop fronts with fluttering, colorful awnings, a café, a flower shop with buckets of colorful blooms spilling onto the pavement and a watchful man who guards the merchandise from the wandering hands of couples and toddlers.

“Flower for you, Red? Free of charge.”

Well, maybe he’s not as watchful of his flowers as I thought. He holds out a red rose. I know I should walk past him, but I love red roses.

“Pretty girl like you must get a million flowers, eh? Where’s your boyfriend? Girl like you deserves an armful of flowers.”

Granny likes roses too.

I take the flower. Its been plucked of its thorns. The stem is smooth and cool to the touch. Its scent is heady. I bury my nose in the soft petals.

“There you are. That’s the smile I wanted to see.” The flower seller flashes me a white smile. “So where is he?”

“Haven’t got a boyfriend.”

“Aw, Red, that’s a real shame. Someone ought to pluck you up. You put that rose to shame. You hang onto that flower.”

“I might give it to my granny. I’m on my way to see her now, and she’s ill.”

“Red, you’re breaking my heart. Tell you what. You tell me where your granny lives. I’ll bring her a whole bouquet of red roses. Think she’d like that? Think that’d make her feel better, Red?”

“I haven’t got the money for a whole bouquet.”

“Discounted!”

“Would five dollars be enough?”

“I can do that, yeah.”

I shift the basket, shift the rose to my other hand and fish out the fiver. He pockets it and starts to gather a bouquet of red roses, carefully selecting each bloom.

“Now you just give me your granny’s address. I’ll make sure these get to her. Make her smile.”

I give him Granny’s address and thank him with a smile.

“You get off to Granny’s, Red. And don’t worry now. We’ll make her feel better.”

I thank him again and continue up the block, humming now and dipping my nose again into the aromatic bloom. The city streets look even brighter, a bit more cheerful with a rose in hand.

Mine was the line stolen this week.

Bek at Building A Door wrote “Heat.”

Gwen at Apprentice, Never Master wrote “Take Advantage” (768 words).

Kate Kearney at More Than 1/2 Mad wrote “Burning Rubber.”

Machete Diplomacy wrote “Drought.”

Book Reviews: April Picture Book Roundup: Part One

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I read many picture books this April and so as I did in January, I’m splitting the reviews into two groups.

Les Petits Fairytales: Little Red Riding Hood by Trixie Belle and Melissa Caruso-Scott, illustrated by Oliver Lake. Henry Holt-Macmillan, 2014. Intended audience: Ages 1-3.

I’ve reviewed Les Petits Fairytales on this blog before, always positively. This latest will join those ranks. Les Petits Fairytales seek to bring the classic stories down to a toddler level, taking on the style of a primer while still maintaining a story, which is something few primers bother to do. Lake’s illustrations help to offer a cohesive plot that this story even lacks in some tellings for older audiences, making the woodsman obviously a witness to the girl’s entry into the house (though one wonders why the woodsman peeks through the window at girl and “grandma”; perhaps his angle just happened to be right to glance up at them through the window, but that seems unlikely). This more than the other Les Petits Fairytales shies from the Grimm version. There is no explanation of why Grandma is not in her bed, and the wolf is merely stripped of Grandma’s clothes, her clothes returned to her, and the wolf sent slinking from the house. Personally, I can understand the desire to spare children the bloody death of a wolf on the edge of a woodsman’s ax, and I can understand not having Grandma ingested, but I would have hoped that Lake might have found a way to subtly imply these ideas. Perhaps the word “rescue” stumped him. The only images that I can concoct for “rescue” that level with Grimm’s original details is a woodsman raising his ax and looking menacing or the wolf split and Grandma rising from its stomach, and neither, but particularly the first, is an image to give children for “rescue.” Since I too am struggling, I think that you get a buy for backing out of this more gruesome ending, Mr. Lake. Still, barring the difficulties of “rescue,” I’d have liked to see Red in wolf’s fur cape by the end.

****

Oh My Oh My Oh Dinosaurs! by Sandra Boynton. Workman, 1993. Intended audience: Ages 1-4.

This book reminds me a tiny bit of Seuss’ one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish rhyme; “Dinosaurs happy and dinosaurs sad. Dinosaurs good and dinosaurs bad. Dinosaurs big and dinosaurs tiny. Dinosaurs smooth, and dinosaurs spiny.” This is an opposites book with dinosaurs done in Boynton’s classically adorable watercolor illustrations and with her moments of humors, with dinosaurs crammed in an elevator and dinosaurs singing a dinosaur song with the text broken up and printed below musical notes as if it were a from a songbook. The book breaks the fourth wall by having the dinosaurs gather at the end to say goodbye to the reader.  Definitely more fun than the average opposites primer.

***1/2

Pete the Cat: Big Easter Adventure by Kimberly and James Dean. HarperFestival-HaperCollins, 2014. Intended audience: Ages 4-8.

When did the message of Easter become one of helping others? This isn’t the only Easter-themed book I read to suggest so (so does Deborah Underwood’s Here Comes the Easter Cat). So that quibble aside and trying to force upon myself a secular idea of Easter, I suppose I cannot fault the idea of a holiday that reminds us to help others. Pete the Cat has become a well beloved figure. Dean and Dean make helping into a game for Pete, and Pete enjoys the game. With stickers and punch out cards, this might have more merit an activity book than a storybook.

***

And Then It’s Spring by Julie Fogliano, illustrated by Erin E. Stead. Roaring Brook-Macmillan, 2012. Intended audience: Ages 4-7, Grades Pre-K-2.

Erin Stead’s illustrations! The soft wood block and colored pencil illustrations are beautiful, and she so clearly captures my view of late winter. This is a book that I needed towards the end of the winter and beginning of spring to remind me that green was coming after all of the brown. The story is relatively simple, one of planting and waiting for a garden and waiting for spring, but the simplicity of the text complements the soft illustrations, which are highly detailed, telling a great deal of story without text, and that simplicity is wonderfully poetic. This book is really fantastically well crafted. This would be an interesting book to read as a color lesson too, though I imagine most kids, by the time they want to read a book like this one, already know their colors, and rather it would be better paired with lessons on patience and plant biology and life cycle.

****1/2

The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee. Little Simon-Simon & Schuster, 2013. First published 2010. Intended audience: Ages 4-8, Grades Pre-K-3.

I’m going to go ahead and quibble with the listed intended audience here. This is a book I think that will appeal far more to parents than it will to children. This book compares a baby to a very particular CEO, and these are references that are likely to fly over the heads of children but make parents laugh at their poignant truth. Some of the vocabulary in this text is probably beyond most children too. The patterns and colors in this book along with the characters’ expressions really make the illustrations charming.

***

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond. Balzer + Bray-HarperCollins, 2010. First published 1985. Intended audience: Ages 4-8.

This book has become a classic and the hub of many spinoffs. I do like the cyclical story pattern. The little mouse does pay for his cookie and milk by doing all of the chores, but this poor kid had no idea what he was getting into when he offered to share his snack. I notice he’s napping himself by the second cookie, but he never does complain about sharing or helping the mouse. The boy here is really like the parent in a parent-child relationship where the mouse is the child. It doesn’t feel like a friendship particularly, and I don’t think that it should be lauded as friendship, though potentially as an example of selfless love. This can be a fun guessing book for kids.  This is a book I would rate very differently depending upon how it’s being introduced.

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