With this week’s release of the film Red Riding Hood, a post on literary and film adaptations of the Little Red Riding Hood fairy tale with teen appeal seemed apt. Coming from oral stories told as early as the 14th century, most modern day retellings are based on the written versions popularized by Charles Perrault in 17th century France and the Grimm Brothers in 19th century Germany. The tale centers on a young girl donning a red cape who must venture into the woods to deliver food to her sick grandmother. A predatory wolf discovers her destination, beats her there, eats the grandmother, and lies in wait for Little Red Riding Hood to arrive. In most versions, the wolf then swallows her whole. A hunter arrives to save her and the grandmother by cutting them out of the wolf’s stomach and then filling him with stones, to his death. Little Red Riding Hood learns to never again take the shortcut through the woods and they all lived happily ever after. Modern-day adaptations and retellings relish in subverting fairy tale tropes and calling out their inherent sexism and didacticism.
Red Riding Hood, starring Amanda Seyfried and helmed by Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke, combines elements of the traditional tale with the increasingly trendy werewolf mythology. Seyfried’s Valerie had planned to run away with the town woodcutter to escape an arranged marriage, but her plans are cut short when her sister is killed by a werewolf. While her town is ravaged by the threat, Valerie learns she has a unique connection to the wolf that makes her both the target of suspicion from the town and from the wolf himself. The movie opens on nearly 3,000 screens Friday, March 11.
Sarah Blakley-Cartwright and the film’s screenwriter, David Leslie Johnson, wrote a novelization of the movie that is available now, though apparently the final chapter will only be available online after the film’s release. Check out a review over at The Compulsive Reader.
(Poppy, 2011; 329 p.)
Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce tells the story of two sisters, Scarlett and Rose, who hunt down the wolves that killed their grandmother, attacked Scarlett, and continue to prey on young girls, with the help of red cloaks and Silas, the woodsman’s son. Check out reviews at Galleysmith, Steph Su Reads, and Abby the Librarian.
(Little, Brown, 2010; 336 p.)
Cloaked in Red by Vivian Vande Velde comprises eight wry versions of the tale, sending up and twisting many fairy tale conventions.
(Marshall Cavendish Children, 2010; 128 p.)
In Scarlet Moon by Debbie Viguie, Ruth tends to her grandmother, banished to the woods for her supposed witchcraft. It is during this time that she encounters the mysterious William, a noble with cursed wolf blood running through his veins, and must confront her feelings for him.
(Simon Pulse, 2004; 157 p.)
The Rose and the Beast: Fairy Tales Retold by Francesca Lia Block, a collection of nine fairy tale retellings, includes “Wolf,” an interpretation of the Little Red Riding Hood story. Kirkus Reviews called “Wolf” a “harrowing tale of incest and sorrow.”
(HarperCollins, 2000; 229 p.)
Little Miss Red by Robin Palmer is a contemporary romance that follows Sophie as she travels to her grandmother’s house in Florida. On her way there, she meets bad-boy Jack, who seems much more appealing than her predictably boyfriend of three years.
(Speak, 2009; 288 p.)
Red Rider’s Hood by Neal Shusterman gives us a male perspective on the tale. Red Rider visits his grandmother in his red mustang, only to discover she is a wolf-hunter being terrorized by a gang of werewolves. Red joins the gang as a spy at first, but finds his loyalties shifting.
(Dutton Children’s Books, 2005; 181 p.)
Are you intrigued by the upcoming movie adaptation? Do you have any favorite interpretations of the story? Let us know in the comments!