The Reading Nook | James Marshall’s Little Red Riding Hood
Hi everyone! I’m excited to announce a new contributor and new column to Classic Play called The Reading Nook. I’m thrilled to have Sandra, who you may remember from the creative family series, here to head it up! xo Jen
Welcome to the Reading Nook where we are all about book for kids.
I’ve always been a book lover – I remember the very first word that I learned – the. I scoured the newspaper for all the the’s that I could find. I read and I read and I read. Went to the library every week and was thrilled when they let me take out more books than the limit.
Fast forward to parenthood and I wanted to make sure that my six year old daughter loved books as much as I did. Only one problem – which ones to choose to read to her? You know what it’s like, you walk into a bookstore and there are shelves and shelves of books. Any gold is hiding between lots of dross.
That’s where the Reading Nook comes in. I’ll be sharing my favourites with you – some for little ones, some for early readers and some for the older set. All great books.
What makes a great one? Good, thoughtful writing of course. And if there are illustrations, creative and imaginative ones. A bit of whimsy. A surprise or two. You get the idea.
So let’s start with our first one – Little Red Riding Hood by James Marshall.
I like fairy tales for all sorts of reasons. The stories themselves are classics of course – we’ve all read them and known them since we were kids. The themes are timeless across cultures. And kids just get them.
James Marshall created some amazing renditions of the classics. They are full of charm and wit. And lots of fat cats. The illustrations are a delight – you will find something new every time you look at them.
But the retelling of the story? Genius. Rather than being ill, “Granny isn’t feeling up to snuff today”. When she is rescued from the belly of the wolf at the end of the story she complains, “it was so dark in there I couldn’t read word”. And the wolf is oh so charming and stylish in his straw hat.
Marshall was a good friend of Maurice Sendak and posthumously won the Laura Ingalls Wilder Medal for a “substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children”. And despite his delightful illustrations Marshall actually gave up art in grade 2 when his teacher laughed at his drawings. We are lucky that he started again.
So pick up his version of Little Red Riding Hood. Let yourself go and use different voices for Red Riding Hood, the wolf, and Granny. And don’t forget to find all those fat cats.