A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids can compare this version of the story with the classic European version. Mentions of Chinese foods, ginseng root, musical instruments, martial arts (kung fu), the Great Wall. Introduces the word for grandmother, Nainai. An Author's Note gives more facts and historical and cultural context. And a list of "What Little Red Found in Dragon's Belly" defines and explains more about Chinese drums, a yo-yo operated with two sticks, silk ribbons used in martial arts dance, Chinese drums, a reed instrument call the suona, and herbal soup made in a clay pot.
Girls don't always need rescuing. We can solve our own problems.
Centers a Chinese family and is rich in its setting and references to Chinese foods, medicine, instruments, mythology, and martial arts.
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Violence & Scariness
The dragon gobbles up Little Red and her grandmother but there's no gore or pain. A closeup of the dragon's face, claws and and bared teeth could be a little scary for little ones. Little Red hits the inside of the dragon with kung fu kicks in her effort to escape the dragon's tummy, and once she gets out, she threatens him with her kung fu sword and yells, "SCRAM!"
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Little Red Riding Hood and the Dragon, by Ying Chang Compestine (The Chinese Emperor's New Clothes) and illustrated by Joy Ang, whimsically reframes the classic European folktale from a Chinese point of view. It's actually narrated by the wolf, who says he was unfairly made the villain in that other version. The dynamic art carries readers along and, as usual, Compestine works Chinese food and culture into the plot for a delicious, original, and highly entertaining story. Little Red and her grandma get gobbled up by the dragon, but they use things they find in his belly to irritate him so much he'll cough the humans up. Little Red uses a few well-placed kung fu kicks, as well.
Is It Any Good?
This fun, creative retelling of the classic folktale freshens it up with a dragon, Chinese food, musical instruments, silk ribbons, kung foo, and a handy sword, but no woodsman. Author Ying Chang Compestine's action-packed storytelling zips along, aided by Joy Ang's eye-catching, cartoon-like illustrations. Close-ups of the dragon's face and claws provide the appropriate thrills and chills. And cutaways showing Little Red sliding down the dragon's throat and then enlisting grandma's help in dragon-bashing moves to make their escape add plenty of humor and girl power.
In a surprise twist at the end of Little Red Riding Hood and the Dragon, we see that the wolf has been telling the tale to the Three Little Pigs, whose three Chinese houses -- one of straw, one of sticks, one of bricks -- are seen in the distance. The wolf concludes, "I don't know how people ended up with a silly folktale that gave me, the gentle wolf, a bad reputation." It's one final giggle in this charming update.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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