Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz, illustrated by Dan Santat
This companion to The Three Ninja Pigs mixes ninja training, wolves and girls in red capes into one great homage to the traditional tale. Wolf can’t catch any animals to eat. They all defeat him with their ninja skills, so he decides to get training himself. After practicing for hours, he heads into the woods where he sees Riding Hood carrying a treat to her grandmother. He suggests that Riding Hood pick some flowers for her grandmother, and dashes off to the grandmother’s house himself. She isn’t home, so he puts on her clothes. After Riding Hood slowly realizes that this is not her grandmother in a wonderful mix of traditional and martial arts storytelling, it is revealed that Riding Hood has also had ninja training. But when the two are evenly matched, it will take one butt-kicking grandmother to save the day.
Schwartz mixes the traditional tale with ninja skills and martial arts to form a tremendously fun book that happily does not leave the original story too far behind. The moments of the story where the original story is followed closely are quickly turned into a more Japanese and ninja storyline. Cleverly mixed, one never quite knows what is going to happen from page to page, making it all the more delightful to read and even better to share with a group.
Santat’s art has his signature modern style. He has a natural feel for comedic timing and that is used extensively in this book. He mixes in Japanese touches throughout, from the dojo to grandmother’s traditional Japanese home. Bright, bold and filled with action, this book begs to be shared.
Another successful twisted tale, let’s hope there are more ninja folk tales coming! Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.