She had her beginnings in Europe with the French Court and the folklore of Germany–and over the years, Red Riding Hood’s tale has spread around the world and into different cultures. (Check out our Book Flight on Little Red Riding Hoods.) Her story has been rewritten, adapted, painted, danced, and sung. Here’s a taste of our favorite multicultural picture books of Little Red Riding Hood. If you come across other intriguing versions, be sure to let us know!
Lon Po Po by Ed Young
In China, children hear about a very scary and wiley creature: Lon Po Po, the Granny Wolf. In Ed Young’s Chinese retelling, three sisters are left home alone while their Mother goes to visit Grandmother on her birthday. Of course, she reminds them to keep the doors locked. The crafty wolf overhears the instructions, disguises himself as a Granny and tricks the girls into letting him into the house, dousing the lights once he is inside. Luckily, Shang, the eldest daughter, sees through his masquerade and the girls are able to escape his grasp and get rid of him forever. The artwork is absolutely stunning; the watercolors and pastels are rich and dark, with the wolf hidden in the landscape in many of the scenes. No wonder it earned the 1990 Caldecott Medal!
Pretty Salma: A Little Red Riding Hood Story from Africa by Nikii Daly
Instead of the Big Bad Wolf, here Pretty Salma encounters a Big Bad Dog on her way to market for her mother. While her mother has warned her not tot talk with strangers, Pretty Salma is still tricked by Mr. Dog into giving up her her beautiful clothes. The wiley Mr. Dog dresses up in them and races to Grandma’s house. With help from her storyteller Grandfather–dressed as Anansi–the family triumphs over the bad dog. Colorful illustrations show a contemporary urban Africa. This book is a wonderful addition to your Red Riding Hood collection.
Petite Rouge: A Cajun Red Riding Hood by Mark Artell, illustrated by Jim Harris
Not a wolf, nor a dog this time, but a “big ole swamp ‘gator” from the Bayou names Claude. He wants to eat up Petite Rouge who is on her way to bring Gumbo to her Grandmere, with her trusty side-kick, the clever cat TeJean. The Louisiana swamp is the setting this time, and the retelling is filled with delicious dialect. It’s a humorous book, both is words and pictures, told in rhyming verse with dynamic illustrations. A winner!
Little Red Riding Hood by Gennady Spirin
Is this a Russian version or Dutch? Well, a little of both. Gennady Spirin grew up in Russia and trained at the Moscow Art School. In his beautifully-illustrated book, he combines Russian technique and story details with his love of Dutch Renaissance paintings. You’ll see the landscape of 17th century Holland, complete with windmills and cathedrals. Grandma is a woman of the times, elaborately dressed in lace. The wolf is the complete Renaissance man, with a ruffled tunic and broad-brimmed feathered hat. The pictures add to the drama of the retelling.
Little Red Riding Hood by Andrea Wisnewski
We can’t resist this taste of home: Little Red Riding Hood in Old Sturbridge Village, set in early 19th century rural New England. The black and white papercut designs remind us of Nikki McClure’s artwork: delicate and intricate. They almost seem to be woodcuts! Then, the bright and colorful addition of watercolor makes the pictures truly breath-taking. It’s a nice addition in this tale that Little Red Riding Hood’s father is the woodsman who comes to the rescue. The women are quite strong, too–and though Grandma is eaten, she ends the book “none the worse for wear.” Lots of special details to find in the pictures, too, making this a popular choice for little ones.
Flossie and the Fox by Patricia McKissack, illustrated by Rachel Isadora
Author McKissack uses her home language to recount this Little Red Riding Hood variation, told to her by her grandfather. The main character, Flossie, lives with her grandmother, Big Mama, in the rural South. Big Mama warns her to be careful of the fox when she sends her to deliver eggs to Miz Viola. Now, Flossie has never seen a fox, and asks, “How do a fox look?” Her grandmother replies, “A fox be just a fox.” When Flossie does meet the fox, he tries to frighten her, but she scoffs at him, cleverly telling him she doesn’t believe he is a fox. His insistence on proving he is a fox proves his undoing. This humorous and engaging tale is enhances by Rachel Isadora’s delicious paintings.