When a very little girl goes to stay overnight with her grandmama, she brings an unusual friend to play in this charming twist-in-the tale of red riding hood. Teresa Heaply cunningly manipulates the time-honoured tale into something new: a story about acknowledging emotions rather than ignoring them. No lumber-jack needed.
Very Little is a wonderful character: bossy, warm, funny and stubborn. She takes no nonsense from anyone. Toddler-speak used mainly in Very Little’s dialogue will bother some readers, but I find it accurate enough not to detract from the story. In contrast, Foxie speaks elegantly. This is cleverly echoed by illustrator Sue Heap in his dapper clothing. Gramma and Mummy’s voices, and outfits, lie somewhere between the two: not as formal as Foxie but definitely adult.
Pencil and watercolour drawings illustrate the storyline with a great sense of fun. Gramma, in particular, is very nicely done with stylish clothes, a good haircut and a great pair of glasses. Illustrations of Very Little are fantastically emotive; from elation at encountering Foxie to the total despair of missing Mummy. The addition of a Greek chorus of pencil-drawn toys who look on as the story reaches its climax is indeed ingenious. Dynamic text setting skillfully guides the reader as to the rhythm and tone of each page from the first reading. The tone and subject matter of this book are firmly aimed at the 0-4 market, where it will surely find a large and receptive audience.