Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China

CALDECOTT MEDAL WINNER – 1990

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China

Ed Young, author and illustrator

New York: Philomel, 1989

28 pp

Ages: 4 +

Interests: fairy tales, folktales

“Dedication: To all the wolves of the world for lending their good name as a tangible symbol for our darkness.”

Three little girls are left home alone for the night when their mother goes to visit their grandmother. In this story the wolf comes to the door disguised as the grandmother. He talks his way into the hut, immediately blowing out the candle and climbing into the bed. Luckily the eldest, Shang, is suspicious and realizes who he is. She and her sisters say they are picking gingko nuts and climb to the top of a tree outside. The wolf is done in by his greed for the nuts, which they claim to be magic. He is so keen to eat some that he lets them pull him up in a basket, whereupon they drop him from a great height and kill him.

A Chinese tale thought to be over a thousand years old, this is a classic story of the small and weak outwitting the strong. It’s perhaps more relateable for children than the European Red Riding Hood, travelling alone through the woods. These girls are still a little too trusting, especially the young ones, but in the end are very clever and don’t require the outside assistance of any passing woodcutter to save them from the wolf.

The pastel illustrations are gorgeous, suspenseful, and creepy. The wolf is rendered realistically and is quite frightening.

(This title at amazon.com)

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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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