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The Girl in Red Hardcover – August 29, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up-Employing the hyperrealistic style used in his controversial Holocaust picture book, Rose Blanche (Creative Editions, 1985), Innocenti here conjures a menacing forest for Little Red Riding Hood. The path in this modern-day, urban setting is surrounded with litter, graffiti, homeless people, traffic jams, fast food, and a crime scene. Sophia's journey is narrated by a knitting granny who appears before the title page amid a group of children. Frisch's ominous text, placed within garish red or gray blocks, sets the tone: "Stories are like the skies. They can change, bring surprises, catch you without a coat. Look up all you want, but you never really know what's coming." The heart of the forest is a shopping mall. Catatonic shoppers are visually assaulted with signs of garters and guns, bingo and bling; stained-glass windows feature Micky Mouse and seductively posed women. The protagonist halts before a toy-filled "window of wonders" and then, lost, falters in a dark alley filled with punks. In a disturbing sequence, she is "rescued" by "a smiling hunter" (a biker, dressed in black, who is later revealed to be the wolf). The story projects a sense of foreboding and terror, and the first of two endings moves the children in the framing story to tears; a "happy" version is unconvincingly appended. By removing the filter of folklore and pulling the archetypal dangers into the present without a sense of safety anywhere, author and illustrator have created a profoundly unsettling narrative that may have some appeal to urban teens.-Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Libraryα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Hans Christian Andersen Medalist Innocenti (The House) reworks Little Red Riding Hood in a story narrated, improbably, by a doll-size figure of a grandmother surrounded by a group of children. "Toys can be fun," the automaton tells them as she knits. "But a good story is magic." In a series of spreads that cross the busyness of Where's Waldo? with the bleak commercial dystopia of Blade Runner, Sophia, clad in a red cloak, crosses trash- and graffiti-strewn streets on her way to her Nana's, dwarfed by buildings and jostled by crowds. Her predator isn't a wolf but a man with a brush cut and a black coat. Frisch (The Lonely Pine) describes him with a sneer: "A smiling hunter. What big teeth he has. Dark and strong and perfect in his timing." The traditional tale has several endings, and Frisch offers alternatives as well-first a tragedy ("It is almost morning when a mother's phone rings"), then a triumph, as police officers capture the man in the black coat. Not a bedtime story, but an opening to hard questions about violence and safety-and about storytelling, too. Ages 8-up. (Nov.) - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Little Red travels a 'hood of a different color in this gritty, urbanized adaptation of the classic folktale. The story begins in a crumbling housing project (the text, which hews more closely to the original tale's language, calls it a forest), where Sophia's mother asks her to go check in on her Nana. Sophia loads her backpack, dons her red coat, and walks through the city toward "The Wood," a bloated, jangling shopping complex, heading for Nana's trailer. Along the way she meets with "jackal" hooligans and a motorcycle-riding "wolf"; we last see Sophia at the door of Nana's trailer, in which we know the wolf waits. There appear to be two endings to this story: one in which the girl's fate ends in tragedy, the other in which the police arrive and "the wolf is snared, a family spared." Either way, Innocenti sets a menacing scene through his terse narrative and dark illustrations. The crowded, large-trim spreads, with their detailed detritus of urban blight, establish a discomfiting tension between the garish, saturated colors of the commercial noise and the drab decay of the asphalt jungle, asking readers to consider the price of commerce and the impact of corporate greed on our cultural integrity and to look past these outward signs of decay to see the humanity in a seemingly depraved landscape. - The Horn Book

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 8 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 3
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Creative Editions (August 29, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568462239
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568462233
  • Product Dimensions: 11 x 0.5 x 12 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #199,863 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Aaron Frisch's picture books--published by Creative Editions--have received several honors, including a 2009 IPPY Award Gold Medal, a 2011 Spur Award, and a finalist nomination for the 2011 Minnesota Book Awards. Of "The Lonely Pine," Kirkus Book Reviews wrote, "Beautifully turned phrases and perfectly captured descriptions beg for this to be used in middle- and high-school writing classes."

His picture books have been illustrated by acclaimed artists Gary Kelley ("Dark Fiddler: The Life and Legend of Nicolo Paganini," 2008), Chris Sheban ("A Night on the Range," 2010), Etienne Delessert ("The Lonely Pine," 2011), Mark Summers ("Pirates at the Plate," 2012), and Hans Christian Andersen Award-winner Roberto Innocenti ("The Girl in Red," 2012).

Aaron earned a degree in English from St. John's University (Minn.). He has written many nonfiction books for children and young adults, including biographies of Albert Einstein, Edgar Allan Poe, and Jesse James, and titles on topics ranging from coral reefs to motocross to zombies. Much of his nonfiction focus has been on professional sports, with books that cover the history and stars of teams in MLB, the NBA, and the NFL.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I think the other reviews here just don't understand picture books at all. The traditional picture books that they seem to be expecting only use (cute) pictures to accompany kids stories, because very young children lack the vocabulary to understand complex descriptions.

This isn't a traditional picture book and isn't for young children, though.

Modern picture books by people like Roberto Innocenti, are designed for the picture to be an essential, critical literacy extension to the book. If you only read the text, you would have no idea what's going on. You need the pictures to understand. You need to 'read' the pictures deeply.

The Girl in Red is for older children (aged 10+). There are tremendous, dark social messages about the influence of the media, premature adulthood, definitions of masculinity and femininity, the fate of modern families, the role of technology, accountability for one's actions, and so on. It intentionally takes a fairy tale and says - look, this is what would really happen. Real life dangers often end up with unhappy endings. And, in fact, traditional fairy tales (from Germany, at least) were very grim and shocking to kids - intentionally to teach them the consequences of making bad decisions (read Struwwelpeter as a prime example!).

Unfortunately, book stores (including those online) always seem to list picture books under the aged 3-4 years category, which is completely wrong.

People like Roberto Innocenti are showing that we should stop thinking that picture books are just for little kids. Real picture books that require critical thinking and visual awareness skills are for older kids, and expand upon traditional literacy skills.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Shelli on November 2, 2014
Format: Hardcover
feel bad saying this because I appreciate creative retakes on classic fairy tales, but I didn't enjoy this version at all. I didn't like the art, the layout, anything. It reminded me of a really horrible cultural art collection that for whatever reason acquires great reviews and is unjustly displayed next to real art.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By julie on November 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I bought this book because I loved the illustrations and we are a city family so the detailed photos are great to look at. But. Why would u make a children's book about a girl leaving her moms house to see nana and get attacked by a gang?!?! Something is wrong with the writer of this book and I would imagine the only people who would read this book to their child are sociopaths. I can't believe I spent $20 on the book. Leaned my lesson to read front to back before buying. I do intend to overwrite the words with my own story in a sharpie. Oh and do believe me when I say not only the words are graphic but the pictures are as well.
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