Way Back Wednesday Classic
Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story From China
By Ed Young
This 1989 Caldecott Award winning Chinese version of the tale of Little Red Riding Hood comes from an ancient oral tradition that may be over a thousand years old. The story of the small girl eluding a “big bad wolf” crosses cultural lines with this red hooded cape/cloaked gamine in the Charles Perrault’s French take or the German Grimm Brothers simple red cap look of a young woman walking though the wood to a sick grandmother to deliver food.
Here, Ed Young who grew up in Shanghai, brings his Eastern sensibilities to his own translation and telling of his unique take on this familiar fairy tale. His art style employs a type of Chinese panel art perfectly complimented by the watercolor pastels that provide a perfect framing of the story.
Living in the countryside of northern China with a mother who has gone to visit granny, three daughters named Shang, Tao and Paotze must combine both brains and brawn to outwit a clever wolf posing as the faraway granny come to visit them!
Alerted by the odd low voice, thorny hands, bushy feet, and hairy face of this wolf in granny’s clothing, they devise a battle plan. Trust me, this is a wolf who is both slow on the uptake and outmatched by three Red Riding Hoods who were not born yesterday. Hint: a rope and hoisted basket are crucial in his defeat and demise!
Interest in fairy tales is evidently growing in the popular culture with the increased following of such series as Once Upon a Time where fairy tale characters awaken from an evil curse in modern times. Each is prodded to remember who they truly are by a small boy that just happens to be the grandson of Snow White. Alas for the evil witch now the town mayor and his adopted mother, the boy is in possession of a book with each fairy tale character’s true story which, when read, will jog their memories. Plot twists abound and it’s fun to see how the fairytale characters interact with one another and in flashbacks their pasts intertwine with future selves. Even last year’s movie version of Red Riding Hood by the director of the famous Twilight series updates this timeless tale.
Please enjoy reading Ed Young’s Caldecott Award winning take on the story of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf with your children. It’s both fresh and fun. Final score: Girls:3 Wolf:0.