By Diane and Christyan Fox. £11.99 Words & Pictures (Quarto)
My six year old was recently lucky enough to be asked to preview this for Loverreading4kids. As soon as I’d finished reading it the first time, he asked me to read it all over again.
At last, I thought, a book that makes me laugh as much as him.
He was laughing at the cartoons of impatient Cat attempting to read Little Red Riding Hood to the irrepressibly lively Dog. I was laughing because I recognised Cat’s exasperation at Dog’s endless interruptions and questions. Adult readers will identify with the relentless questioning of plot points and motivations of the characters that we have to negotiate every time we settle down to read a story with our younger listeners.
I liked the way the text is a conversation between the two characters; and the simple format of the text next to the cartoons was a refreshing change compared to a lot of books I’ve read recently (where the pages are too “busy” with words and images). The splashes of colour are just perfect for drawing your eyes on.
It struck me that this book pokes fun at storytelling itself, and fairy tales-perhaps you might say it’s a good example of metafiction. Even the endpapers get a comment! But I think kids will recognise the conventions of fairy tales that crop up.For example:
“A WOLF! EXCELLENT!
They’re always the bad guys in stories like this.”
It’s a great story for exploring conventions in fairy stories, and how they can be deconstructed.
As a teacher, I can see Years 5 and 6 enjoying this as much as younger readers. The content is quite sophisticated, but the illustrations and chatty style make it accessible to a wide audience. And we all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood!
I hope Cat has some more stories he’s reading to Dog, as we’d happily read more.
For reviews from young readers, checkout
8th August 2014