I’ve been working on this assignment for the SCBWI Tomie dePaola award, which is due December 1, and I think I’m just about done. The prompt is to choose a passage from the opening passages of Philip Pullman’s retelling of Little Red Riding Hood. After reading his version of the story (isn’t he the most amazing storyteller by the way?), I noticed how long winded the mother is when she’s instructing Little Red Riding Hood where to go and what to do. I imagined that, like most young people, Little Red might be distracted and pay less than close attention to her mother.
Here’s my final piece:
One day her mother said to her: ‘Little Red Riding Hood, I’ve got a job for you. Your grandmother isn’t very well, and I want you to take her this cake and a bottle of wine. They’ll make her feel a lot better. You be polite when you go into her house, and give her a kiss from me. Be careful on the way there, and don’t step off the path or you might trip over and break the bottle and drop the cake, and then there’d be nothing for her. When you go into her parlour don’t forget to say, “Good morning, Granny,” and don’t go peering in all the corners.’
And I couldn’t help but make her Japanese. I know that this probably won’t win me any accuracy points toward this award, but like many people of color and of mixed race, I had the experience of not seeing myself reflected in stories when I was growing up. (Although when I did, I was obsessed. Claudia Kishi? She was the coolest!) So I went with my first instinct, which was to create a character who breaks out of the usual blonde, blue-eyed red riding hood tradition. It was a fun assignment- I’ve been happy to have an excuse to paint again!