Cindy: Fractured fairy tales are always fun and popular with young readers, and Little Red Riding Hood is a perennial favorite. Alex T. Smith’s Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion (2016) is especially delightful due to its spunky heroine and lively, humorous artwork. This Little Red is on safari. She and her pet goat set off to deliver spot medicine (sold in her father’s general store, along with doughnuts) to Auntie Rosie, who has developed a bad case of the spots. She navigates around termite mounds, under leaping gazelles, catches a ride on an elephant, and waves hello to a family of meerkats (complete with a baby meerkat in a diaper) as she journeys to her auntie’s house. The artwork is bright and humorous, and the story will make a great story hour addition, but there are many details for lap readers to catch. Little Red’s goat is always chewing on something.
Children will love how Little Red dispenses with the masquerading Very Hungry Lion in a gentler, kinder way than the Grimm tales, and without requiring rescue from a woodcutter. I love that she is smart enough to not be fooled by a lion wearing her auntie’s pink nightgown. Little Red can visit me with her basket of doughnuts anytime!
Lynn: I too love this sassy smart Little Red. The Very Hungry Lion had a plan but Little Red quickly devises a much better one, designed to teach the naughty Lion a lesson. There’s a laugh on every page of this clever book.
Another facet that makes this picture book a stand-out are the illustrations. Smith uses a vibrant palette of bright red, pink, orange and yellow that fills backgrounds and splashes across the pages. I’d love to have a framed print from this gorgeous book! Funny details reward attentive readers, and Little Red’s pet goat is fun to find on each page. Great as a ap book, the bright colors, funny story, and large size make this a fun book for story-hour reading, too.