Little Red Riding Hood
I don’t know how many versions of “Little Red Riding Hood” I have, but I couldn’t stop myself when I found this 1960s version in the collection of children’s books I came across at the St. Lawrence Antique Market. Keep reading…
This copy of “Little Red Riding Hood” was obviously well loved because it seems to be missing the first couple of pages. The credits for the author or the illustrator are missing, but I do know that it belonged to a reading series called “Tell-A-Tale Books”.
There are many versions of this story, some honest and gruesome while others are as sweet as apple pie. The copy I picked up is wholesome; we are introduced to Little Red Riding Hood’s mother and father, which is rare as so often Little Red Riding Hood’s father is left out of the picture. Then there is a whole scene devoted to showing Little Red Riding Hood and her mother cooking and cleaning house, while on the opposite page father yields an ax, working hard to bring home the bacon. There is nothing scary in this story. The wolf isn’t hungry for flesh; he is kind, friendly and just hungrily eyes Little Red Riding Hood’s basket of goodies. Even Grandma escapes danger by hiding in the closet as the wolf enters her cottage. In this version, everyone (even the wolf, who escapes the ax of the woodcutter) lives happily ever after. And just in case there was doubts of foul play, Little Red Riding Hood tells her Grandma that “[t]he wolf didn’t hurt me” as they sit down to enjoy their basket of goodies.
Perfectly tailored to go with the story, the illustrations are just as sweet; the colours are sunny and bright. I find them very Disney-like, with birds singing to Little Red Riding Hood and cute little animals frolicking after her as she makes her way to Grandma. I am certain that Shirley Temple was the illustrator’s muse because Little Red Riding Hood, with her blond curls, blue eyes, rosy cheeks and long lashes, looks exactly like her. I kind of find it humorous that all the characters portrayed in the book, even the wolf, have long and defined lashes.
It’s fascinating when you start collecting and comparing different versions of the same story. You learn a lot about an author or an illustrator and the era in which it was printed. Everything leaves its mark.
Little Red Riding Hood, a children’s book review by Thao Lam