Every Saturday we hope to share with you our thoughts on reading and books. We thought that it would be good practice to reflect on our reading lives and our thoughts about reading in general. While on occasion, we would feature a few books in keeping with this, there would be a few posts where we will just write about our thoughts on read-alouds, libraries, reading journals, upcoming literary conferences, books that we are excited about, and just book love miscellany in general.
We have just launched our reading theme this week, and we are excited to feature a great deal of fearless females or courageous women until the end of April. And since our previous reading theme was on fairy tales, this week is kind of a spillover as we feature strong female protagonists in fractured retellings of familiar fairy tales.
Little Red Riding Hood (Not Quite)
Written by: Yvonne Morrison Illustrated by: Donovan Bixley
Published by: Scholastic, 2015
Book borrowed from the NIE Library. Book photos taken by me. New Zealand Children’s Choice finalist.
This book was published two years after The Three Bears (Sort Of), and it follows essentially the same formula as the first book with the metafictive elements very neatly interwoven into the story: a child once again constantly interrupts the narrative, indicating that story within a story vibe to the tale:
This time, though, the young child seems to have a greater participation – unlike in the first book when the modifications are done by the mother-narrator. See the image below where the child draws her own version of the tale as she sees it in her mind’s eye:
What I found to be particularly hilarious was how the child questioned the wolf’s swallowing the grandmother and Little Red whole without chomping them into bits. She shows a book about carnivores that demonstrates the wolves’ bone-crushing teeth that would render this kind of idea virtually impossible:
What really worked for me in this story is how clever the depiction of the young child is. She is no passive consumer to the story being read to her by her mother, she is an active, questioning, very critical participant to these narratives. In fact, I wonder why I didn’t even question these tales as a child. Perhaps if I read more stories like these, then I would have. Definitely a book that you should give to your young readers.
Little Evie In The Wild Wood
Written by: Jackie Morris Illustrated by: Catherine Hyde
Published by: Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2013
Book borrowed from the Jurong West Public Library. Book photos taken by me.
Unlike the first book that portrays a fun, upbeat, fractured version of Red Riding Hood, this one -from the hues of the book cover alone – one can already deduce a bit of affinity with the darkness. While not entirely accurate, this one portrays the mysterious enchantments of the moon, a wolf, and a young girl traveling the woods at night.
There is a build up of something dark with the subdued colours that appear brooding, more than anything. However, the text conveys something so exquisite, so sensual, that it rolls off the tongue as one reads it aloud (see below):
In patches of sunlight butterfly wings brushed her face. Up they flew, towards the emerald light as golden leaves tumbled, turning together in a spiral dance. She could hear the leaves as they touched the earth.
As Evie goes deeper into the woods, the reader gets to see that she isn’t visiting Grandmother, after all. She is there to see the wolf:
Exactly what Evie wants with the wolf, I shall leave for you to discover. I am glad that these two books found me. Both worthy additions to anyone’s bookshelf.