Little Red Riding Hood and the Big Bad Wolf are bedtime story icons.
The duo’s fateful encounter at Grandma’s house has been thrilling – and terrifying – children for countless generations. In fact, there are forms of the folk tale dating back to the 10th Century.
But it was French writer Charles Perrault who created the first printed version in the 17th Century, followed by the Brothers Grimm 200 years later.
Like all good fairytales, the story combines unforgettable characters with dark and gripping plot twists, plus a moral message.
There’s no need to stick to the originals however, especially if your child is not a fan of the wolf and his dastardly deeds (a few of our friends have kids who find him the stuff of nightmares).
Here are four modern retellings of Red Riding Hood that each give a slightly new take on this most traditional of tales…
1. Red Riding Hood by Beatrix Potter, illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. £12.99 (hardback), Frederick Warne
Two of British literature’s most celebrated female talents pair up for a darkly delicious version of the original tale, despite being born a century apart. Beatrix Potter’s take had sat in the V&A collection for years until illustrator Helen Oxenbury brought it vividly to life for this beautiful book.
While it is faithful to the original French folk tale, with both Granny and Red Riding Hood coming to a sticky end, the story, scenes and language are very much rooted in the English countryside that Potter is synonymous with. And while the final image of the full-bellied wolf is a grisly one, children will no doubt get a little thrill from his wickedness. Available from Amazon
2. Little Red by Bethan Woollvin. £6.99 (paperback), Two Hoots
This kick-ass version of the classic character – combined with the coolest black, white and red illustrations – won Bethan Woollvin the prestigious Macmillan Children’s Book Competition and turned the traditional tale on its head.
In Bethan’s reimagined version, Little Red is one streetsmart young lady who is not fooled by the silly wolf. So rather than wait for the woodcutter to come to her rescue, our heroine takes matters into her own hands…
The darkly comic ending is a masterstroke of suggestion and your child will find it wickedly satisfying. Available from Amazon
3. Very Little Red Riding Hood by Theresa Heapy and Sue Heap. £6.99 (paperback), Penguin
Red Riding Hood is a very little girl with a very big personality in this funny, sweet and not-at-all scary take on the tale by Heapy and Heap.
Reimagined as a feisty toddler who won’t take no for answer, she packs up her suitcase and heads to Grandmama’s for a sleepover, meeting Wolf on the way. But this brave and bossy heroine isn’t scared, roping in her furry friend for the trip and games of hide-and-seek, drawing and dancing. Available from Amazon
4. Little Red Reading Hood by Lucy Rowland and Ben Mantle. £6.99 (paperback), Macmillan
Little Red loves to read and when she sets off for the library, she meets a wily wolf. He persuades her to stay in the wood and finish her book – then runs off to pose as the librarian, Mrs Jones.
But when the young bookworm arrives and the wolf primes to gobble her up, she and Mrs Jones show him that the ending to the story doesn’t need to be so obvious.
Combining lovely rhyming text and a powerful message about using your imagination, this is a delightful bookish twist on the tale. Available from Amazon
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