Author: Joan Holub
Illustrator: Melissa Sweet
Publication Date: September 24, 2013
Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC.
Number of pages: 36
Recommended age: 4+
Reviewed by: Renee (Mother)
Acclaimed writer Joan Holub and Caldecott Honoree Melissa Sweet team up in this hilarious and exuberant retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, in which a brave, little red pencil finds her way through the many perils of writing a story, faces a ravenous pencil sharpener (the Wolf 3000)… and saves the day.
My Thoughts: Little Red Writing is a clever and whimsical picture book by the prolific author Joan Holub and the very talented illustrator, Melissa Sweet. In a parody of “Little Red Riding Hood”, this story introduces us to a classroom of adorable pencils who are tasked by their teacher (Ms. 2, lol) to write a story – any story. Little Red sets off, determined to write an “exciting” story and soon finds herself learning first hand about the importance of different parts of speech such as nouns, adjectives, adverbs, punctuation, and other important rules of writing. In essence, hidden within the pages of this book are basic lessons for the budding writer!
There are so many great things about this book, I don’t even know where to begin! I love the parody of “Little Red Writing Hood” and in particular, the Big, Bad Wolf. The scenes where it begins to dawn on Little Red that she is not sitting before the school principal after all and the revelation of who has taken the principal’s place is absolutely hysterical! The book is full of amusing details, some of which only adults (or at least older children) may understand (e.g., “The Adventures of the Write Brothers” with airplanes on their heads); but, I have to say that if I have to read the same book over and over to my children, I don’t mind doing it with this one. I catch new things every time I read it – it’s very clever.
The way the book is illustrated is absolutely innovative. Melissa Sweet has done an incredible job of creating detailed, colourful, and interesting pictures to accompany the text. The two-page spread depicting “adjectives” is astonishing. There are adjectives (e.g., flowery, gnarled, dark, mossy, etc.) scattered throughout the two pages in a way that is almost an “I Spy” exercise. My kids and I had so much fun spotting the words and, in some cases, needed a dictionary to decipher the meaning (e.g., What does bosky mean? Well, I know now!). The book also uses a mixture of comic-strip type illustrations whereby the characters speak using speech bubbles. My kids just loved it!
I do also want to comment on the physical characteristics of the book. The book itself has a very sturdy book cover (i.e., will have increased longevity), includes a dust jacket, and features thick, tear-resistant pages. Overall, it is a solid, well-manufactured book. I just had to share my appreciation for the “feel” of the book – the difference from a standard picture book paperback is quite noticeable.
My Bottom Line: Little Red Writing is an absolutely delightful and whimsical picture book which features incredibly detailed illustrations, a hysterically funny story, and basic writing lessons for the budding author. My kids and I absolutely loved it! I highly recommend this book to teachers, librarians, and parents of children aged 4 years and older.
* This book was provided by us free-of-charge by the author in exchange for our honest opinion. All opinions expressed are our own. *
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