Friday 19 October 2018

ReadItDaddy's Second Book of the Week - Week Ending 19th October 2018: "Red and the City" by Marie Voigt (OUP / Oxford Children's Books)

Our second Book of the Week arrived amidst the early September "Bookapocalypse" with such a huge flood of titles all arriving on the same day...
We diligently put out a roundup article on that date and featured Marie Voigt's sublime "Red and the City" just to make sure you lovely folk got in on the ground floor with what's easily one of the most impressive retellings of a classic fairy tale we've seen this year.

In fact that's why we're here, now the dust has settled a little and our schedule isn't quite as manic, hectic and frenetic as it was a month ago.

Enough about our woes, on with the book review!

"Red and the City" centres around little Red, who is now old enough to travel to visit Grandma in the city on her own. Though she's accompanied by her (scene stealing) poochy friend Woody who keeps an eye on her as she traverses the seething metropolis.

Follow the heart flowers through the book and stay on the path!
Red soon discovers that the city really isn't anything like the quiet place she comes from. It's full of hustle and bustle and when you're knee high to a grasshopper (or at least toddler sized) everything seems huge, big, noisy and quite scary.

By now you're wondering where the famed Big Bad Wolf comes into the story, as it takes its cues from "Little Red Riding Hood".

This is where the book really won us over. From the very first scenes you'll spot a certain 'wolfish' look to various elements as Little Red makes her way to Grandma's house.

Wolfish buildings, wolfish corporations running everything from junkfood restaurants to big brand stores. All this adds up, increasing Red's angst at being alone on her own in such a daunting place.

Is it me or is that bus shelter a bit..."Hairy" ?

We love books that pull this trick. Helen Cooper and Anthony Browne use this story dynamic to brilliant effect in their books, and now Marie also makes it her own as the wolf's presence is merely alluded to - somehow making it even more menacing than before. But keep a look out for the red heart flowers that crop up throughout the tale, even in the most urban surroundings as a symbol of hope to guide Red safely on her way.

All aboard the Wolf Train. Er, perhaps we'll walk thanks...!
This is a fantastic story, so achingly clever in the way it perfectly demonstrates children's anxiety and fear in such a visually impactive way. Clever use of clear illustrations with a reduced colour palette both enhance the story telling and let children's imaginations fill in the gaps beautifully.

Quite simply one of the best classic fairytale retellings we've seen this year, if not ever.

C's best bit: The wolf train! HOWWWWWLLLLL!

Daddy's favourite bit: Strong symbolism, an engaging central character (and her adorable canine sidekick) but some truly stunning allusions and storytelling make this an absolutely essential purchase.

"Red and the City" by Marie Voigt is out now, published by OUP / Oxford Children's Books (kindly supplied for review).