October 4, 2016

Best Little Red Riding Hood Picture Books

The tale of "Little Red Riding Hood" has always been a favorite of mine. Like many fairytales it's very dark, but the eeriness of the situation––a girl being seduced by a wolf––leaves a lot of room for visual interpretation. "Little Red" is also a huge favorite because of how well it lends itself to being fractured: we see all sorts of versions of this story floating around, from the darkest possible scenarios to the hilariously vengeful. It's this flexibility that makes the story so much fun to collect in all its forms and even more fun to catalog in terms of illustration and design.

Click on these book covers to poke around!


The Little Red Wolf
Illustrated by Amélie Fléchais

A twist on the old tale, Fléchais explores what happens when a young wolf sets out on a journey to bring his grandmother a rabbit and finds himself charmed by a "helpful" little girl who turns out to be far less than helpful. This is a much darker version of the tale, both in tone and in color. The illustrations are rife with blacks, dark blues, and shadows, leaving readers minds open to guessing what will happen next. The text never takes center stage despite its fancy font, and this book lends itself well for children learning how to read illustrations.

Little Red Riding Hood
Illustrated by Daniel Egnéus

Daniel Egnéus' interpretation of the tale is quite possibly the most beautiful I've seen. The gentle mix of watercolor, ink, and collage allows Egnéus to explore light and dark in his Little Red Riding Hood, as well as foreground and background images. The text is beautifully incorporated into the illustrations so that we get a sense we're completely enveloped by this story. It's a more abstract type of illustration style, so we rely more heavily on the colors Egnéus uses to better understand the tone of each image.

Little Red Riding Hood

Illustrated by Sybille Schenker

The intricate paper cut-outs of Sybille Schenker's Little Red Riding Hood will send chills down your spine. They're just incredible. Every piece of the illustrations becomes important, from what we can see through the cut-outs to the shadows the cut-outs cast to what we see on the other side of each page. The book is just absolutely flawless, incorporating lots of detailed work to bring the story to life in a new, fresh way.

Illustrated by Bethan Woollvin

Bethan Woollvin's Little Red is such a fantastic retelling of the story, not just because the illustrations are hilarious and perfectly designed, but also because the events of the story take a slightly different turn than usual. Woollvin's interpretation is bold and beautiful, using only four colors––red, white, gray, and black––to highlight the events of the story. It's such a fun read in every way, and you'll crack up at the ending.

Illustrated by Beatriz Martín Vidal

A stunningly trenchant interpretation of the tale, Vidal's version of the story captures vignettes from three key moments in the tale: the girl putting on her hood, her first time meeting the wolf, and breaking out of his body. With dark, hyper-realistic illustrations where red is the only spark of color, the dream-like sequence of events seamlessly.

Illustrated by Louise Rowe

Louise Rowe's adaptation Red Riding Hood: A Pop-Up Book uses pop-ups clearly and sparsely so that every piece of every image adds to the story. Rowe sticks to a limited color palette, and she cleverly uses the negative space to enhance the sense of isolation readers feel in each spread as Little Red gets closer and closer to her fate.

Un Petit Chaperon Rouge

Illustrated by Marjolaine Leray

Marjolaine Leray's Un Petit Chaperon Rouge is a small book with a large presence. The tone of this book is much lighter, which definitely partly stems from the looseness of the illustrations. Leray uses only black and red colored pencils to create her illustrations, which gives them a levity we don't often see in such a dark story. And the ending is hilarious! It's available in English as well, but the only illustrations I could find are from the French version.

Illustrated by Clémentine Sourdias

There's no way to talk about "Little Red Riding Hood" without putting Clémentine Sourdais' leporello on the list. This leporello consists of cut-out cardstock so that readers can flash a light through the pages and cast shadows on the walls. It's absolutely stunning, and makes for a super fun interactive read of the well-known story.


Illustrated by Jed Alexander

In traditional fashion, Red travels to her grandmother's house and is intercepted by the Wolf, though for a purpose far, far less nefarious than eating her. The silk screened illustrations are done entirely in shades of red and black, which gives the book a much safer tone, especially when coupled with the rounded characters and the intricate, soft line work on other imagery like the trees and the animals.

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