Little Red Cap - Thao Lam
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Little Red Cap

Little Red Cap

Little Red Cap

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Last week I talked at great length about my visit to The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. One of the highlights of my visit was a showcase of original art by Lisbeth Zwerger (love her). Keep reading…

Little Red Cap is no Disney version of “Little Red Riding Hood”. This classic tale told by The Brothers Grimm and illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger is darker and true to the original fable. In the Grimm version, the hunter cuts open the wolf to rescue Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. Together they fill the wolf’s body with heavy stones and sew him back up. When the wolf awakens thirsty, he goes to a well for water, where he falls in and drowns. It’s a happy ending, but not for everyone.

Some illustrations just can’t be captured in print. After spending hours staring at the original art of Zwerger, I felt a sense of loss. My copy of Little Red Cap was missing so much in comparison; the printed book wasn’t able to reproduce the subtle beauty of Zwerger’s work. It failed to capture the translucency of her watercolours and the delicate lines of her drawings. The bleeds, soft edges and textures of the watercolours were all lost. Her earthy colours and subtle tones ended up looking washed out and muddy in my book. The original illustrations had so much more breathing room, but sadly they had to be cropped and forced to fit into a 9.5” wide by 8.5” tall format.

A while back I was given a lesson on how to tell the difference between a genuine Coach handbag and a copycat design that fell off the back of a truck. Sadly my version of Little Red Cap is a knock-off of the original work of Zwerger: nothing can compare to the real thing. I wouldn’t spend hundreds of dollars on a Coach handbag, but if I had the money my walls would be covered with Zwerger’s works.

Little Red Cap, a children’s book review by Thao Lam

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Illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger

Studying at the Applied Arts Academy of Vienna, Austrian illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger was originally discouraged by her teachers from pursuing a career as a children’s book illustrator. Illustrations were frowned upon in her fine art studies. Lacking in confidence, it was Zwerger’s mother that sent her portfolio around. With her mother’s continued support Zwerger’s portfolio caught the attention of publisher Michael Neugebauer, who help launched her career.

Zwerger rarely produces more than one book a year. It takes time for her ideas to formulate and she enjoys investing her time into her art. Zwerger prefers illustrating classic fairy tales that allow her the creative freedom, without ever having to quarrel with authors over the creative aspects of a story.

Publisher Minedition (September 7, 2006)

ISBN-10 9780698400535

ISBN-13 978-0698400535