YA Fairy Tales – Little Red Riding Hood

I have been wanting to do a special on YA fairy tale re-tellings for a LONG time. There are so many amazing YA re-tellings of classic fairy tales with quite a few being published in the last 5 years.

My love of fairy tales goes back a long time (traditional children’s stories, picture books, and of course Disney). Also, in addition to being a YA lit lover and librarian…I actually hold an undergraduate degree in anthropology. WEIRD, right? Well, I like to think it’s weird in a good way and led to a lot of research into fairy tales and folklore from around the world.

We will start off this theme with the classic Little Red Riding Hood!little-red-riding-hood-jessie-willcox-smith

Cool but random fact –> Red Riding Hood falls under the 333 Aarne-Thompson Classification System (really cool way to categorize folklore from around the world). The 300-series of the Aarne-Thompson System is defined as “Supernatural Opponents.”

Versions of this tale practically blanket Europe and can be found throughout East Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.

Most of the European versions involve a red cloak or tunic. The Brothers Grimm version mentions a red cap. The stories in Europe, the Middle East, and some of the Asian ones feature a wolf as the primary antagonist while Africa and the other Asian versions allow for local animals instead. Another variant is called “The Wolf and the Kids” which shows a wolf antagonist attacking baby goats (kids) who were left home alone.wolf and the kids

While most folklorists believe the story to be one of the most ancient that we still hear today, the earliest written proof is from the 11th century in a poem from Belgium. The poem talks about a girl wearing a red baptism tunic who wanders into the woods and has a run-in with a wolf.

Almost all the stories focus on the idea of “stranger danger” and an innate fear of the wild woods versus the safety of town. Then, the stories seem to split between the main character using cunning to get out of a sticky situation or being rescued.

The newer YA versions of the stories try to focus on “Red” saving herself. Here are some of the best (IMO) of Little Red Riding Hood’s (LRRH) YA re-tellings:

  • Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge – When Rachelle was fifteen she was good—apprenticed to her aunt and in training to protect her village from dark magic. But she was also reckless— straying from the forest path in search of a way to free her world from the threat of eternal darkness. After an illicit meeting goes dreadfully wrong, Rachelle is forced to make a terrible choice that binds her to the very evil she had hoped to defeat.  Good+Reckless+Girl Protagonist+Deadly Meetingcrimson bound
  • Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce – Scarlett and Rosie March are both fighters of werewolves. Scarlett is physically scarred from an attack when she placed herself between a werewolf and Rosie. While Rosie feels she owes her sister for her life, Scarlett becomes a little too fanatical about her werewolf extermination mission. Bad Wolves+Cunning Girl Protagonist+Blatant Recklessnesssisters red
  • Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – This graphic novel is a compilation of fairy tales that have gone seriously wrong. If you like horror with your fairy tales, this is the book for you. The tale that links to LRRH is at the conclusion and features a wolf appearing outside of a girl’s window in the creepiest way possible. Young Girl+Trickster Wolf+Major Creep Factorthrough-the-woods-253x300


Sources for the Little Red Riding Hood folklore factoids:

What Wide Origins You Have, Little Red Riding Hood! by Rachel Hartigan Shea from National Geographic

Could Little Red Riding Hood Reveal the History of Human Migration by Sarah Griffiths

Aarne-Thompson-Uther Classification of Folk Tales from the Multilingual Folk Tale Database