Synopses & Reviews
A good story can change. In The Girl in Red, acclaimed illustrator Roberto Innocenti offers a modern take on the centuries-old tale of an ailing grandmother, a wicked wolf, and a young girl in a red coat. Innocenti's brilliantly detailed illustrations present a city as a wilderness, while text by Aaron Frisch narrates the journey of a girl named Sophia through the twists and turns of a stormy day.
Hans Christian Andersen Medalist Innocenti (The House) reworks Little Red Riding Hood in a story narrated, improbably, by a doll-size figure of a grandmother surrounded by a group of children. "Toys can be fun," the automaton tells them as she knits. "But a good story is magic." In a series of spreads that cross the busyness of Where's Waldo? with the bleak commercial dystopia of Blade Runner, Sophia, clad in a red cloak, crosses trash- and graffiti-strewn streets on her way to her Nana's, dwarfed by buildings and jostled by crowds. Her predator isn't a wolf but a man with a brush cut and a black coat. Frisch (The Lonely Pine) describes him with a sneer: "A smiling hunter. What big teeth he has. Dark and strong and perfect in his timing." The traditional tale has several endings, and Frisch offers alternatives as well-first a tragedy ("It is almost morning when a mother's phone rings"), then a triumph, as police officers capture the man in the black coat. Not a bedtime story, but an opening to hard questions about violence and safety-and about storytelling, too. Ages 8-up. (Nov.) - Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
Little Red travels a 'hood of a different color in this gritty, urbanized adaptation of the classic folktale. The story begins in a crumbling housing project (the text, which hews more closely to the original tale's language, calls it a forest), where Sophia's mother asks her to go check in on her Nana. Sophia loads her backpack, dons her red coat, and walks through the city toward "The Wood," a bloated, jangling shopping complex, heading for Nana's trailer. Along the way she meets with "jackal" hooligans and a motorcycle-riding "wolf"; we last see Sophia at the door of Nana's trailer, in which we know the wolf waits. There appear to be two endings to this story: one in which the girl's fate ends in tragedy, the other in which the police arrive and "the wolf is snared, a family spared." Either way, Innocenti sets a menacing scene through his terse narrative and dark illustrations. The crowded, large-trim spreads, with their detailed detritus of urban blight, establish a discomfiting tension between the garish, saturated colors of the commercial noise and the drab decay of the asphalt jungle, asking readers to consider the price of commerce and the impact of corporate greed on our cultural integrity and to look past these outward signs of decay to see the humanity in a seemingly depraved landscape. - The Horn Book
About the Author
Aaron Frisch is an editor and author whose picture books—published by Creative Editions—have received an IPPY Award Gold Medal, a Spur Award, and a finalist nomination for the Minnesota Book Awards.
Roberto Innocenti, a self-taught artist, has earned worldwide acclaim with such illustrated books as Rose Blanche and The Adventures of Pinocchio. In 2008, he received the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen Award.