Cloaked in Red, by Vivian Vande Velde

Here's a book that fans of fairy tale retellings will want to put on their wants list: Cloaked in Red, by Vivian Vande Velde (Marshall Cavendish, October 1, 2010, YA, 128 pages), a collection of short and snappy re-takes of the story of Little Red Riding Hood.
Vivian Vande Velde has Issues with Little Red Riding Hood. From the introductory Author's Note:

"There are different versions, but they all start with a mother who sends her daughter into the woods, where there is not only a wolf, but a talking, cross-dressing wolf. We are never told Little Red Riding Hood's age, but her actions clearly show that she is much too young, or too dimwitted, to be allowed out of the house alone.

But apparently Little Red's mom hasn't noticed this."

(I am strongly tempted to keep typing quote after quote from this deliciously snarky dissection of LRR...but will resist. Just one more....)

"I don't like to criticize anyone's family, but I'm guessing these people are not what you'd call close. Little Red doesn't realize a wolf has substituted himself for her grandmother. I only met my grandmother three times in my entire life, but like to think I would have noticed if someone claiming to be my grandmother had fur, fangs, and a tail.

But Little Red, instead of becoming suspicious, becomes rude."

So anyway. Vande Velde goes on to tell eight Little Red stories of her own imagining, taking girl, cloak, granny, wood cutter and wolf and twisting them in fascinatingly twisted ways. Different perspectives are offered-- granny's point of view, the wolf's point of view, and even, most intriguingly, the red cloak's take on things! A wide range of alternate circumstances--magical, economic, and personal--are thrown into the mix. And for fans of paranormal stories, there's even a werewolf...

The result is a collection of tasty stories, each with its own distinct flavor. Many I delighted in, others simply liked just fine, and I wish there had been more. It's clear that Vande Velde had great fun writing these, and I had great fun reading them!

Note on age: this is being marked as 12 and up, and I'm not sure why. Although some of the themes are "older" -- the relationship problems of a granny, for instance, and a rather strange story of thwarted motherhood-- there wasn't anything "older" in an explicitly described way (there's just one kiss, on page 46- "My, what firm lips you have!"). I am planning on passing it on to a ten year old girl of my acquaintance, and I'm putting middle grade in my labels, as well as YA.


  1. I love Vivian Vande Velde! (Dragon's Bait, for example.) She did this same thing in a collection called The Rumpelstiltskin Problem a few years back--another fun and sometimes poignant collection. I'll put this new book on my long list of books to buy... Thanks!

  2. Vivian Vande Velde is a fun author - she writes quite amusing things -- wish I'd seen this one this summer, I really do love fairytale retellings and am considering doing one myself! I must read this now, I need to top-up my snarkage!

  3. Oh, a new-to-me author. (And this one one sounds like *such* fun!

  4. This was a very fun, fast read! I clearly need to read more VVV--the only other one I've read is Remembering Raquel, which is a fine book, but straight YA...

  5. I picked up The Rumpelstiltskin Problem at the library sale this ummer but haven't read it yet--will give it a go while waiting for this one!


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