Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Liesl Shurtliff writes another fabulous,fractured fairy tale with “Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood.” Those who enjoyed “Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin” and “Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk” will love this story.
Readers are introduced to Red in Shurtliff’s first book, “Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin.” Red is feisty, and readers learn that she doesn’t trust magic. In this story, readers learn why she doesn’t trust magic. Red is really afraid of magic. Because she is young, when her grandmother (a witch) tries to teach her how to perform magic, she hasn’t been in control. When trying to start a fire, she burns down things. Red does not believe that she can do magic correctly, so she shuns it.
The other thing that Red is really afraid of is losing her grandmother. When her parents leave Red with her grandmother and go away for a week, Red is terrified when her grandmother falls sick. She decides to search for the magic that will save her grandmother’s life.
Along the way, Red encounters the wolf. She has seen him before, and her grandmother suspects that he stole her pigs away for dinner, but this is the first time that she gets really close to him. Red can understand what animals are saying, and the wolf is lonely. What he says to her is “come…”
Red also encounters Goldie, of famous three bears fame. Goldie is obnoxious and irritating, but Red soon discovers that Goldie is extremely unhappy because she doesn’t think her mother loves her. There is also the hunter who is hunting the wolf, and the hunter has secrets of his own.
Red’s charm and winning ways lead her to discover the best in everyone she encounters — even a grumpy dwarf (hope there’s a book about him soon). She finds magic that could save her grandmother — but at what cost? Is eternal youth, or eternal life, the answer? There is much to think about and much to discuss in this fairy tale fantasy that asks real life questions.
Shurtliff references other fairy tales (Beauty and the Beast and more) in this story and the twists are delightful. This story has several such twists, and the ending is practically perfect. Red learns what is important in life and what things are truly worth being afraid of.
Please note: This review is based on the final hardcover book provided by Knopf Books for Young Readers for review purposes.