Monday, September 18, 2017

Red Riding Hood, Reconceptualized! Little Red Riding [SHEEP] by Linda Raven Lodding

Every production needs a caped creative consultant, right? That's Arnold's story, and he's sticking to it.

He tries out for the role of Little Red Riding Hood, but despite some "scooching down," the director is not convinced he's right for the part.

"You're not a girl. You're a sheep, Arnold!" he points out.

"Heidschucke sheep, to be exact," says Arnold.

"But the main character in this book is NOT a sheep," insists the director.

That's what all the authors say, Arnold thinks. Sheep are usually relegated to the background, munching. Bo-ring!

Arnold calls for a few daringly edgy changes in the setting. Those deep dark woods could be sunnier with just a few strategic erasures, he suggests. Then he offers his friend, a muskrat named Einar, who would be an inspired choice as the Big Bad Wolf. And his friend Frankie Warthog is perfect for the role of the Grandmother.

"She's won a Granny Award," Arnold offers.

But then Einar points out that as a dedicated vegan, his personal values won't allow him to gobble grandmothers.

"I get GOBBLED?" cries Frankie, suddenly fearful.

CUT! There's such a thing as too much creative license, in Linda Rave Lodding's take off on reconceptualizing the classics, in Little Red Riding Sheep (Atheneum Books, 2017), and even Arnold confesses that it's his b-a-a-a-ad. Some tales just don't benefit from too much freewheeling.

Sometimes it pays to get your actors from central casting after all. Artist Cale Atkinson's comic illustrations of the fleecy Arnold caped as Little Red, the muskrat Einar as the big, bad wolf, and a tusky warthog as Red's granny, make this fractured fairy tale fun for primary readers who know the original all too well. And it's definitely not boring. Says Booklist, "A fun, meta, fractured fairy tale.”

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