Little Red Writing, written by Joan Holub and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, who has illustrated nearly 100 children's book and won a Caldecott Honor and a Siebert, is a brilliant retelling of the classic fairy tale from the perspective of a little red pencil given the school assignment to WRITE A STORY! More than just a retelling of "Little Red Ridinghood," Little Red Writing, in a sneaky sort of way, teaches kids about story structure and how to write. I'm not sure the degree to which Holub and Sweet collaborated on Little Red Writing, but there a jokes, plays on words and all sorts of tips and tricks embedded in every illustration. "Write Often and Carry a Big Notebook" is the motto of the Pencilvania School, where Ms. 2 is Little Red's teacher. Word bubbles and multiple panels on several pages make Little Red Writing read almost like a graphic novel. Sweet has a style that I love, incorporating elements of collage into her illustrations. With lined pages, graph paper, Scotch plaid and newsprint integrated into her artwork, Sweet's illustrations are perfectly suited to this particular story about writing a story.
As a red pencil, red being the color of courage, Little Red wants to writes a story about bravery. She decides to follow the "Story Path" steps that Ms. 2 has written on the chalk board and write a story about a pencil who will, "Go on a journey through the school, meet unusual characters, fight evil and save the day." Ms. 2 reminds Little Red that, "it's ok to wander a little, but stick to your basic story path so you don't get lost."
As Little Red thinks about the story she wants to write, Holub works some fantastic vocabulary into the story and even a little grammar. Little Red meets a tube of "Conjunction Glue" who offers to share some words that have "stick-to-it-iveness" that will help her stick to her story path, but she gets bogged down in a run-on sentence. Just in time, a truck full of adverbs drives by and Little Red nears that part of the story where something exciting is supposed to happen. A wolf isn't especially scary to a pencil, but an electric pencil sharpener in Principal Granny's office is! Trouble, then even bigger trouble ensues but Little Red fixes the trouble and makes it back to the classroom just in time to hear her classmates read their stories and share her own.
Little Red Writing is the kind of book you can pull of the shelf and read to almost any listener, but it definitely shines when read to just the right audience. Next time you need a gift for you child's teacher, this is the book to give!
Source: Review Copy