Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat
Wolf is tired of being hungry, so he sneaks into Ninja school to learn a better way to “catch a good meal.” He’s got a toothsome plan that includes young Red, but Red’s got some fancy maneuvers of her own. With Gran cheering her on, Red shows Wolf what real girl power is! Her victorious demands are tough to stomach for Red, until Gran offers peach pie and Wolf sees the possibility of a sweet, peaceful new life.
Coren Rosen Schwartz rhymes her way to energetic, boisterous delight, making buddies out of frenemies with one swift kick. Illustrator Dan Santat (click here for an entertaining audio introduction to his truncated Thai American name), however, is the mischievous superstar infusing every page with fast moves and quick humor, especially in the expressive department!
Not to get lost in Schadenfreude, but Wolf’s suffering as he keeps “getting licked / by the dinner he picked” is oh so POWerful. He’s hardly invisible in bespectacled red (since everyone else is in white) when he sneaks into Ninja school, turning every set of curious (worried?) eyeballs toward himself. And then there’s shy, innocent Red whose singularly raised eyebrow exposes some major arch as soon as she realizes who’s really been waiting for her visit, never mind that his bright red lipstick probably gave him away. And we certainly can’t ignore Gran as she throws open the sliding door, grimacing out her thunderous warnings.
Santat, who created Disney Channel’s animated series, The Replacements, surely knows how to get the best performances out of his characters. Wolf, Red, and Gran make quite the entertaining trio, not to mention that must be some amazing peace-filled peach pie. Here’s to delicious fun all around.