Released: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
It's hard to go wrong with a retelling, especially when you play it safe like Liesl Shurtliff has done. The elements of the original Little Red Riding Hood are cleverly woven into the story, but the original is pretty bare bones and so most of this story takes a wholly original approach.
Red, as a character, is equal parts likable and forgettable. I'm fine with that, because that means I had a nice character to journey with along the story, but once the story was over we effectively parted ways. The side characters were developed similarly: nice and enjoyable during the story, but not memorable.
The plot also followed that same path. It was just enough to keep me engaged, but not quite enough to stick with me after the story was over. I think the target audience will be even more engaged than I was, and the nifty quest-ish stops along the way will probably stick with younger readers more effectively.
Though, there was this one scene along the journey that really has stayed with me. It was creepy, sad, romantic, and terrifying all rolled into one and could easily stand alone as a short story in its own right. For those who have read the book, I'm talking about the memory water scene. While most of the other lessons Red learns along the way are your standard fare coming of age, growing type lessons, this scene provided something meatier and more adult to contemplate.
If Red is any indication, Liesl Shurtliff's series of standalone fairy tale retellings are a solid contribution to the genre that should appeal to the target audience of middle-graders, but also provide something for YA and adult readers. Recommended, especially for fans of authors like E.D. Baker.
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