Sunday, February 23, 2014

Little Red Cap Responder: Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue by Naoko Stoop

"What's that on the water?" asked Red Knit Cap Girl.

"It's a polar bear cub! He needs our help!"

Red Knit Cap Girl and her forest friends have  been busy crafting origami toys, until through her newspaper telescope she sees a white cub adrift on a shrinking ice floe.

Now she shifts into Red Knit Cap first responder format. Quickly folding a hang glider for herself, Bear and Rabbit fly out over the ocean toward the cub floating far from home. He is crying, and she hugs him quickly and offers her help.

"Your family must looking for you!" she supposes.

But how to find the way to take him back home where he belongs?

The Moon serves as dispatcher, pointing her in the direction of the North Star, toward the land of snow and ice.  Red Knit Cap Girl fashions an origami boat from newspaper, and a pod of whales offer guidance along the way by the glow of the Northern Lights, until the telescope shows a Mama Polar Bear looking anxiously out over the Arctic Ocean.  Baby Polar Bear recognizes her.


My work here is done, Red Knit Cap Girl seems to be saying, as she folds more newsprint into a paper airplane to return home, her red cap still in place, in Naoko Stoop's second book in this carefully crafted series, Red Knit Cap Girl to the Rescue (Little, Brown, 2013).  A simple lost and found story, Stoop's delicate and evocative mixed media (ink, acrylic, pencil, on coarsely grained plywood) achieve an imagined world that is both sweet and daydream-like, a flight of fancy firmly anchored by the solid shape of the resourceful Red Knitted Cap Girl.  The illustrations are soothing, lush and lovely, with a gentle inevitability in the story's happy ending.  As School Library Journal says, "The novelty of this tale lies in the stunning illustrations and the character's imaginative use of origami as a vehicle for adventure."

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