CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 11. . . .November 14, 2014
Super Red Riding Hood.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 2014.
32 pp., hardcover & eBook, $18.95 (hc.).
Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 3-7.
Review by Meredith Cleversey.
Not far from here, near a small forest, lives a girl named Ruby. Ruby’s favorite color is red. She loves red berries, her red boots and especially the red cloak her grandma made for her. When Ruby puts on her red cloak, she becomes...SUPER RED RIDING HOOD!
Ruby is excited to put on her red cloak and become a superhero, even if she’s only going to the woods to pick some raspberries. Once she is in the forest, however, Ruby finds an unexpected adventure waiting as she comes face-to-face with a fierce and unfriendly wolf. At first, Ruby is afraid of the wolf, but once she finds her courage and stands up to his bullying ways, she discovers the reason for his irritability and saves the day for them both.
Claudia Dávila’s Super Red Riding Hood is a combination of a classic fairy-tale and a modern story about seeing things for what they really are. Ruby’s cloak is similar to that of Little Red Riding Hood, but she does not want to be the helpless girl from that long-ago story. Instead, Ruby’s desire is to be a superhero, with the cloak acting as her red hero’s cape. The modern addition of the superhero character brings a unique perspective to this otherwise traditional feeling story, thereby making the reader unsure whether the plot will play out like a fairy-tale, an action tale, or something else entirely. Ruby seems to be following a similar path as Little Red Riding Hood, but ultimately she rescues herself by being brave and making a new friend.
The presentation of an old story with a modern twist is intriguing, but, at times, this mixture of style creates a lack of focus in Super Red Riding Hood. At the beginning of the tale, Ruby sets out to pick raspberries, a task she endeavors to accomplish as a superhero. She does get to play hero as she saves a snail she encounters on her journey, but, once she ventures into the dark woods by herself, the story becomes less about being a superhero and more about discovering the truth behind the actions of others. Ruby is quite successful in facing her fears of the big bad wolf, but she doesn’t need to be a superhero in order to achieve this goal. The hero aspect of the tale is underdeveloped in parts of the story and is not actually crucial to the plot. Without it, the story of the brave little girl is still strong, and while some readers will enjoy the concept of Ruby finding strength and courage in her red cloak, others may wonder whether the costume is truly needed.
The illustrations, also done by author Claudia Dávila, use somewhat muted hues that make the vibrant red of Ruby’s outfit stand out quite nicely on the page. The images have a sweet, classic feel to them, again bringing forth the notion of the old style fairy-tale. Ruby’s boots and, more prominently, her lunchbox with its big yellow star, add a punch of modernity to the pictures, complementing the text and its style of adding contemporary detail to an otherwise traditional story set-up.
All in all, Super Red Riding Hood is a cute story with a strong message about helping others and addressing fears head on. Ruby is not always without fright as she encounters a dark forest and a hungry wolf, but she overcomes these fears with the aid of her super red cloak and her desire to be a hero. This is a simple but charming twist on a classic tale, with a strong lead character and a happily ever after ending well-suited for a modern audience.
Meredith Cleversey is a librarian in Cambridge, ON. She loves to read, write, and live in a world of pure imagination.
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