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BOOK REVIEW: Little Red Riding Hood Stories Around the World by Jessica Gunderson

| 12 February 2015 | 1 Reply

BOOK REVIEW: Little Red Riding Hood Stories Around the World by Jessica Gunderson

Picture Window Books
February 2015
Hardcover, $16.95
Reviewed by Steph O’Connell




What is a Fairy Tale?

Once upon a time, before the age of books, people gathered to tell stories. They told tales of fairies and magic, princes and witches. Ideas of love, jealousy, kindness, and luck filled the stories. Some provided lessons. Others just entertained. Most did both! These fairy tales passed from neighbor to neighbor, village to village, land to land. As the stories spun across the seas and over mountains, details changed to fit each culture. A poisoned slipper became a poisoned ring. A king became a sultan. A wolf became a tiger.
Over time, fairy tales were collected and written down. Around the world today, people of all ages love to read or hear these timeless stories. For many years to come, fair tales will continue to live happily ever after in our imaginations. 


These books are a great addition to the library of any collector of fairy tales, anyone who has ever enjoyed remakes of the old classic, and are a fantastic introduction for anyone who doesn’t know the stories already.


In this collection of Little Red Riding Hood tales from around the world, we are offered the classic German version of the tale we all know and love, as well as the Italian and Taiwanese versions.

It’s interesting to see what changes happen from story to story:

– There’s the one in which Little Red Riding Hood is taking bread and wine to her grandmother’s house, and strays from the path, allowing the wolf time to get there first, eat her grandmother, and hide in her bed.

– The one in which a little girl goes to her grandmother’s house to borrow the flour sifter. She offers ring cakes to a sentient river, and oil and bread to a rusty gate along the way, and when she arrives at her grandmother’s house, all is not as it seems.

– And the one in which a woman leaves her two daughters at home while she runs errands, but warns them not to open the door to anyone, “Especially not the Grandaunt Tiger.” The woman runs into the tiger, who is disguised as an old woman, and allows it to eat all of her food, and her hand. And then the tiger continues on to the woman’s home, where her daughters are waiting.


Of the four collections, this is the most gruesome, and with some more noticeable variations than some of the other collections. There is a certain amount of suspension of disbelief required, especially in the situation where the tiger ate the mother’s hand and she didn’t bat an eye. Further to this, when the tiger is asked to prove it is the mother, and its hand is too rough, it wraps its hand in a leaf, but this might have been a handy point to tie together the tiger’s want to have the mother’s hand, and the situation with the girls.


The different styles of illustration from story to story are just as interesting as the differences in the stories themselves. While there is a glossary at the back of each collection, this does mean this collection will likely have to be read to the younger readers, but could also help with increasing their vocabulary. There are also questions at the end, to encourage readers to really think about the tale, and information on some other Little Red Riding Hood stories for further reading.

Next time you’re after a book about Little Red Riding Hood  for book week, as a gift, or just wanting to brush up on your fairy tales, definitely give this one a go. 


Category: Book Reviews, Other Reviews

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