‘Ninja Red Riding Hood’ by Corey Rosen Schwartz: Fractured funny fairy tale


Rating: 5 stars

Corey Rosen Schwartz does it again — a perfectly rhyming, funny fractured fairy tale for kids to enjoy and for teachers to enjoy reading aloud. “Ninja Red Riding Hood” is the perfect sequel to “The Three Ninja Pigs.”

Not only is the rhyme fabulous and the action non-stop, parents and teachers alike will love the chance to have kids exposed to some really strong vocabulary words.

“‘And those biceps! My gosh, they look massive.
And your triceps and delts are immense.’
‘The better for hugging,’
her grandma said, shrugging.
‘Dear Red, that’s just plain common sense.'”

“Massive, “immense,” and other words like “anticipation” and “deftly” will help build strong vocabularies in younger readers. The dialogue between the wolf, Red and Grandma is liberally sprinkled with such words and with martial arts vocabulary.

And the ending? Talk about transformation! The wolf is reformed and has learned his lesson as Schwartz perfectly ends this fractured tale.

Schwartz is definitely into girl power — it’s the oldest sibling, the sister pig in “The Three Ninja Pigs” who saves the others’ “bacon.” And Red Riding Hood is no slouch in the “I can save myself” department. The wolf thinks Red and her old grandmother are easy pickings, but that’s far from the case.

The illustrations also deserve special note. Those who enjoyed Dan Santat’s illustrations in “The Three Ninja Pigs” will see great similarity in these illustrations. Some pages have panels depicting the action — and the action pages radiate movement. Other pages, appropriately, are much calmer. Throughout, there is a clever use of color and space. Santat takes advantage of every inch of each page to great effect.

An effective and entertaining activity for kids in school and out is to read them several versions of the same fairy tale, including fractured fairy tale stories, and have them compare the different stories. How are they the same? How are they different? Teaching kids at a young age to think about what they read is important and will help them significantly in school.

Fractured fairy tales are more popular than ever for a reason. Kids love hearing and reading different iterations of the same story. And when a talented writer like Schwartz adds rhyme to the mix, it’s even better!

Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by the publisher, Putnam Juvenile, for review purposes.