Saturday, December 18, 2010

Book Review: Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde

Cloaked in Red, by Vivian Vande Velde
Release Date: October 2010
Marshall Cavendish Children's Books
Pages: 128
Received: Library
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 

Author's Page
Amazon Page 

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Eight short stories that each turn the classic story of Little Red Riding Hood on its head.


Vivian Vande Velde is one of the most underrated storytellers out there. I adore her books! While her novels are my favorites, she is also a master at crafting a good short story (a rare skill, I find). Cloaked in Red is no exception. With her signature dry wit, VVV has managed to create eight distinct and highly original versions of the, admittedly, rather strange original tale.

Before she beings, VVV treats the reader to a hilarious and sarcastic summary and deconstruction of the original story, complete with explanations on a number of different versions. She points out the absurdities of the original (naming a kid after an article of clothing? Kid can’t tell the difference between her own grandmother and an animal?), leaving me rolling with laughter. Usually I skip author’s notes, but for some reason I decided to read this one. Piece of advice? Read it! If you’re at all unfamiliar with the story, or just need a refresher on the details, she does an excellent job summarizing it. More importantly, the author’s note is laugh out loud funny!

Each story follows a different character in the original story: the grandmother, Little Red, the woodcutter, Little Red’s mother, the wolf, and even the Red Riding Hood. Sometimes Little Red is bratty, sometimes she’s nice, sometimes granny is a victim, and sometimes she is something quite different. Some of the stories are sweet, some are horrifying, but all showcase VVV’s wry humor. The real triumph of these stories is that each is unique and I never felt like I was reading the same story over and over again.

While all these stories share a common theme, they are each separate and self-contained so you can easily pick the book up, read a story, and then read something else in between. The whole book is pretty short and can be read in about an hour or two. I do recommend this book to fans of fractured fairy tales or someone looking for a laugh.
Explanation of rating system: Star Rating Key 

Related Posts: 
Summary: Cloaked in Red (feel free to discuss spoilers here!)

Do you like the Little Red Riding Hood story? How would you retell this story? Do you agree with Vivian Vande Velde that this is a pretty strange story?


  1. I might have to give this one a try, especially if it's a collection of short stories. My request list from the library is getting so much longer... I hold you responsible in part for this! I have "Beauty Sleep" checked out and am reading it now.

  2. Sounds pretty interesting. I'm not really fan of many short stories in a book, but sounds intriguing!

  3. It looks like a lot of fun. I love the idea of having lots of little stories from each character. I may have to add this to my to read pile.

  4. Moony, I'll happily take the blame :D How are you liking Beauty Sleep?

    Yiota, I'm usually very picky of short stories, but I liked these. I also liked that you can read one and then put the book down for a while.

    Alice, It is fun! I really like VVV's humor.

  5. I really loved her book Now You See it and saw this one on goodreads. Great review I will be looking out for this one! Oh I am from the blog hop and am a new follower!

  6. I loved that book too! Thank you for the follow. I hope you enjoy it here :)

  7. I love VVV, and it's so great to see that you enjoy her writing as well. I enjoyed Cloaked in Red, but I think The Rumplestilskin Problem is even better. And of course Tales from the Brothers Grimm and the Sisters Weird is fun too (the same idea as Cloaked in Red and The Rumplestilskin Problem, but with retellings of various fairy tales). What do you think of her novels? I tend to prefer the short stories, except for Heir Apparent, one of my favorite books ever.

    P.S. I just found your blog this afternoon, and I cannot stop reading it! I'm sure this is going to become one of my favorite blogs. We have totally similar tastes, and your posts are just so much fun to read.


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