Friday 29 September 2017

ReadItDaddy's Second Picture Book of the Week - Week Ending 29th September 2017 - "The Little Red Wolf (Le Petit Loup Rouge)" by Amelie Flechais (Lion Forge Books)

Our second Picture Book of the Week this week is something truly special, proving once again that the French really know how to create stunning children's books...
If anyone's ever crazy enough to take me to task over my love of children's books, this is the sort of book I'd thrust angrily into their hands, demanding they read it from cover to cover.

Amelie Flechais' stunning "The Little Red Wolf" (Le Petit Loup Rouge) has now been translated into English, ready for a whole new audience to thrill to this flipped-on-its-head version of Little Red Riding Hood.

Don't be put off by that - this isn't just a shoddily reworked fairy tale, this is a true work of art as Amelie tells the story of a tiny (and, it's fair to say, utterly and completely ADORABLE) little wolf clad in a red hood, tasked by his mother to take some rabbits to his elderly grandma in the forest.

The wolf happily sets out on his journey, but when he meets a little girl in the forest, things aren't quite what they seem...

Beautiful doesn't always mean good, little wolf. 
The little girl seems helpful and eager to pitch in at first, but soon the little wolf realises she has an ulterior motive that definitely belies her innocent pretty looks.

The forest is full of wonders - and dangers, for a little red-hooded mite like Wolfie
There are so many things about this story that I fell completely in love with. First, it seems the French don't share our absolute terror of producing longer wordier picture books. This story doesn't fit at all into the standard picture book formats we've become chained to, and it takes its time to build up a hugely atmospheric and deliciously dark tinged book world as it unravels wolf's story.

Next is Amelie's artwork. Again, it's fair to say that some of the most amazingly talented illustrators working in children's publishing across the channel really are beginning to produce some of the most stunningly atmospheric work in kidlit. Every single spread, every page, every panel in this just makes you want to melt into a puddle of admiration, complimenting the story so utterly perfectly.

Then there's that whole "darker children's books" thing. We've noticed a marked departure in UK publishing away from darker themed books for kids and I wonder if this isn't as a result of some industry wide backlash against giving kids books that thrill and lightly scare 'em in equal measure. I think it's a sad day if we lose that, I really do (and no, I'm not some unfeeling loony who thinks it's hilarious to scare kids, honestly!)

Stunning artwork is just part of the story. This is one spectacular children's book. 

"The Little Red Wolf" puts the story of Little Red Riding Hood back where it belongs, as an unflinching example of what can happen if you're a bit too trusting and innocent of the ways of the world to see and recognise a nefarious character when you encounter one. It really does give you a serious case of all the hairs on the back of your neck standing up on end as the story reaches its climax. It's so hugely atmospheric and dazzling.

It's an utterly amazing example of a book that feels like it will be around forever, and I truly hope it finds huge success in the UK and US as it has in France. It really does deserve it.

Charlotte's best bit: Poor tearful Wolf, so adorable!

Daddy's favourite bit: So much to love in this one. It looks stunning, it's darkly tinged but still mesmerising, it doesn't shy away from a longer word count or a break from the usual stale picture book formula, and it's amazing for a huge range of ages (even adults). A real thing of beauty this, and the sort of book we would desperately love to see more of.

(kindly supplied in digital format for review)

"The Little Red Wolf" by Amelie Flechais is out now, published by Lion Forge Books.