Susan Middleton Elya has written a number of children’s books to help readers experience a bit of Latino culture by introducing them to Spanish words in the context of a story written in English. Here, Susan Middleton Elya takes a familiar children’s story and adds some twists.
Little Roja Riding Hood is a bilingual twist on a favorite fairy tale involving a littlegirl, her grandmother, and a wolf. In this rhyming picture book, Little Roja Riding Hood is walking through the woods to her grandmother’s house. She is taking her some hot soup because her grandmother is nursing a cold. On her way, a wolf distracts her by pointing out the lovely flowers she could pick for her grandmother.
While she dallies, he scampers off with the soup and Roja’s hooded cape. The wolf enters her house and is about to eat her grandmother. Unlike the original story, it is Roja who saves the day, not the woodsman – she tosses the hot soup on the wolf. Her grandmother then takes steps to prevent unwelcome visitors in the future.
Little Roja Riding Hood includes Spanish glossary (with pronunciation) in the front of the book. Spanish words are boldfaced in the text. Illustrations are modern and Latino in nature: Roja drives an ATV, her mother watches Spanish TV, and her grandmother works on her laptop while in bed. Even the wolf is modern, wearing a skull necklace and bandana.
Little Roja Riding Hood received the Pura Belpre nomination for illustration (2015). Its watercolor, ink, and gouache artwork was done by Susan Guevara.
Recommended for school and public libraries.
Carol R. Gehringer
–reprinted with permission, Christian Library Journal, 2015.