I’ve had Vivian Vande Velde’s Cloaked in Red (Scholastic 2010) in my TBR pile for a while. I’d been putting off reading it because I’ve working on a novelization of Little Red Riding Hood myself. (See my posts for Teachers Write for some of what I’ve been writing this week.) I was afraid reading someone else’s version would keep me from writing my own. Bu I finally couldn’t resist it any longer, especially when I realized it is eight different short stories giving eight different versions of Little Red Riding Hood.
In the author’s note, Vande Velde explains that she has never understood why we know and continue to tell the story because Little Red Riding Hood is not a good story. Its characters don’t even have names and aren’t too bright. The setting is a nondescript woods. The plot is less than logical. Just what theme can you take away from it? In eight different ways, Vande Velde tries to flesh out some of these shortcomings. My favorite is the last one, Little Red Riding Hood’s Little Red Riding Hood,” in which the cloak itself takes a starring role. I also like the independent Granny in “Granny and the Wolf.” “Why Willy and his Brother Won’t Amount to Anything” introduces the Brothers Grimm to the story.
In addition to being funny, these stories show how writers can play around with the basic elements of character, plot and setting to create very different stories–and none of them are like my version!