Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy, illustrated by Sue Heap, is the first in a series of picture books that re-imagines classic fairy tales with toddlers as the stars. When you think about it, this is a pretty good idea since kids are fascinated with fairy tales from a very young age. The problem is, when you don't Disney-fy the classics, the can be a bit dark for the littlest listeners. Lucy Cousin's collection Yummy! is the BEST collection of fairy tales for toddlers out there. And now Heapy & Heap are adding to the short list.
Very Little Red Riding Hood finds Red getting ready for a sleepover at Grandmama's. Her rolly bag is packed and the cake box is filled with goodies. Mummy admonishes her to be "gentle with Grandmama. And don't break anything!"
Being Very Little Red, she has not quite yet mastered the concept of "stranger danger" and she mistakes the wolf, who admittedly is wearing a cozy scarf and what looks like a comfy coat, for a friendly Foxie. And, being Very Little Red, she commands the room. Soon, the wolf is following her to Grandmama's and being told definitively, "Not LELLO flowers. RED!" when he suggests taking some lovely wildflowers to Grandmama.
Things carry on this way at Grandmama's, where Very Little Red insists that "Foxie" be let in, despite Grandmama's efforts to keep him out. The three have tea together, do some drawing, have a little dance party and play hide-and-seek until, true to toddler form, Very Little Red has a meltdown. Mr. Wolf comes to the rescue by reciting the lines that we know so well, traditionally spoken by Red, with a little twist. "Oh, what big, wet eyes you have," and "Oh, what a big, snotty nose you have," lead to a great big tickle that turns the tables and makes for a VERY happy ending - a nap for Very Little Red Riding Hood.
Teresa Heapy's story is perfectly paired with Sue Heap's illustrations. Very Little Red is dressed to a toddler-T and Grandmama is pretty hip looking and not too old. Heap's color palette is primary and bright and she does a fantastic job bringing the day-to-day aspects of toddler life to the page. Best of all are the bright red endpapers that have map printed on them showing Very Little Hansel and Gretel's house, Very Little Sleeping Beauty's tower, Very Little Cinderella's house (with a sign out front that begs, "Babysitter needed quick!") and Very Little Goldilocks and Very Little Jack's house among other great spots! I can't wait to see who gets a visit next from Heapy & Heap!
Other books by Sue Heap:
Source: Review Copy