Monday, May 9, 2016

Red Riding Hood

Okay, so if you haven't figured it out already, I've been trying to cover these stories in the order I encountered them, because it's "nostalgia." However, after I get past that Richard Scarry VHS, it's kind of hard for me to figure out EXACTLY the precise order I encountered these stories in (even if I DO have a really good memory). So I'm covering these next few only ROUGHLY in order, as I encountered them around the same time. I'll start with "Red Riding Hood."

Now, in the early 90's there was a collection of books at was apparently printed in Canada by a company called "Tormont Publications." It was called, "The Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest." I'm going to try to explain his clearly, because it took me awhile to figure out exactly how these books were published, and I'm not sure I'm even entirely correct. So bear with me. I'm trying to help you understand.

"Great Fairy Tales Treasure Chest" is a series of about five "series" if you know what I mean. Each "series" in the series in the series was composed of five tall, skinny books that were included in a tall, skinny box. Each "series" had its own box, as well as its own border. And they included wonderful illustrations by a guy with the pen-name of Tony Wolf, as well as (I think) one or two other illustrators.

Now, being born in the LATE nineties (rather than the early nineties, when these books were published), and living in AMERICA (rather than Canada), it would seem strange that we would have had any of these books at all. But we did have a few of them, though I don't know exactly where my parents even got them from.

From what I've gathered, it appears that the books that were from the first "series" we're also published individually without the numbers at the bottom of the books. You can see the books from series one in the picture below.

Now, we had books four and five of series one, but they were from the individually published versions, rather than the ones from the collection, so the volume numbers were not at the bottoms of the book covers. It appears that the individual versions also were different colors than the collection versions. As you can see from the picture, all the books from the collection version were blue. However, our copy of book four was green, and our copy of book five was pink. You can see the cover of book four below. It's the only picture I could find of it. And of course, ours was green instead of blue.

Now I'm sure you have two questions. The first is probably why I didn't post a picture of book five as well. The second is probably why I'm talking about these books so much. The answer to the first ties into the answer to the second. I will say that we eventually also got a copy of the complete series four, but that doesn't matter right now. About the two questions, book five actually has an interesting nostalgic value that I feel is worth talking about in a post of its own, so I'm saving a picture of it for when I do a post about it. And that won't be long from now either. I needed to introduce these books because it will make more sense when I post more about them later.

Now you've probably guessed from the title that book four has the story of "Red Riding Hood" in it. And yes, it does. It also has "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Obstinate Goats."

Now "Read Riding Hood" was popularized by French author Charles Perrault. His version of the story introduced most of the elements we know from the story today, such as the red hood. His version literally translates to "Little Red Riding Hood."

The story was made even more popular by the Brothers Grimm, who toned the story down quite a bit, and gave it a much less dark ending. Their version is "Rottkapchen" (I think that's how it's spelled), which is a diminutive form of "Red Cap" However, some translations of it for children still call it "Red Riding Hood."

Now, everybody probably knows this story already (aren't you tired of hearing that from me? LOL.).

There's a little girl who always wears a red hood. Her mother sends her into the woods (and out of the woods! and home before dark! LOL!) to bring food to her sick grandmother. She tells her not to leave the path, and not to talk to strangers. A wolf meets her on the way, and she foolishly tells him where her grandmother's house is. The wolf convinces her to leave the path to pick flowers, and then races the the grandmother's house and locks her in the closet. He dresses up as Grandmother and jumps into her bed. Red arrives at the house and suspects that something isn't right. She can tell that her grandmother isn't what she usually looks like, and just when she figures out it's the wolf, she's too late, and the wolf pounces on her. But before he can eat her, a hunter enters the house and shoots the wolf. He rescues Red and her grandmother, and Red promises to never talk to strangers, and never leave the path again.

Now, the majority of modern versions of the story are based on the Brothers Grimm version, and although it is very similar, there are quite a few differences.

The first is that the Brothers Grimm version doesn't focus on the talking to strangers aspect. At all. It's main focus is how Red is supposed to stay on the path. Talking to a wolf is apparently normal in this version. Red's fault is in taking the wolf's advice to leather path, which gives the wolf time to get to Grandmother's house first. And at the end, there's actually an epilogue where Red keeps true to her word and ignores the advice of the next wolf who tries to trick her into leaving the path, allowing her to get to Grandmother's house first and plan ahead to defeat the wolf. A very satisfying ending, in my opinion.

And the most memorable difference is that the wolf doesn't even lock grandmother in the closet. He eats her! And he eats Red too! And it turns out they were swallowed whole. And the hunter must have taken advice from the mother goat from "Wolf and the Seven Little Kids," because he does the exact same thing she did! And the wolf has the same fate!

Now granted, not all kids versions have used the revised ending I mentioned earlier. In fact, the version from "Great Fairy Takes Treasure Chest" actually combines both endings! The wolf eats both Red and her grandmother, the hunter shoots the wolf, and then cuts the protagonists alive from his stomach.

But if you thought the Grimm version was dark, just look at the Perrault version.

This version DOES focus on the talking to strangers aspect. The wolf convinces her to take the longer path, and he takes the shorter one. When Red arrives, he tells her to remove her clothes and get in bed with him. The story takes on the familiar "Red is suspicious" plot point, but after the wolf eats her, that's the end of the story! Yup, she's dead!

Some have interpreted this story as being about avoiding sex offenders, and while I get kind of tired of scholars interpreting nearly every fairy tale as having to do with... something like that, in this case, it actually seems like a pretty valid interpretation.

There are older versions of this story too. In some of them, the wolf tricks Red into drinking her grandmother's blood! And while quite a few end with the wolf eating her, there are some early versions where Red outsmarts the wolf by asking to use the outhouse. Then she goes outside and runs away! And they say that women are helpless in fairy tales!

I personally like the ending where Red dies the best. I think it really drives the point home that kids should not talk to strangers, and should stay on the path. But I don't mind the other endings. They are all very clever, and, to be fair, I grew up with the happy ending!Plus, as a guy who really likes the movie "Hoodwinked," (yes, that will get its own review someday) I can't resist a bit of comedy in these stories!

Now, next time, I'll get to another famous fairy tale that has a wolf as the antagonist. You can probably guess what it is already! ;-)


  1. I have to say, I cannot approve of what Germans call "black pedagogy", the installment of obedience in a child with the use of fear, so I'm not a big fan of Perraults version. Especially the survival of the villain can be distressful for children. The Grimm's attempt of having Red Riding Hood (which btw is called Rotk├Ąppchen in Germany, which transcribed would be Rotkaeppchen) apply the lessons she learned in a later encouter with another wolf seems to be more constructive.

    Glad I'm not the only one who likes Hoodwinked.:)In general it seems to be getting rather poor reviews, but except for the animation (which is justified by its budget), I cannot find any major flaws with it. In my opinion it's rather entertaining and creative.

  2. I also like the Grimms' version with the second episode the best. It's very female empowering that Red and her grandmother outwit the wolf on their own, and as Julia mentioned, I like that it shows them as having learned from the first time. To have Red die from simply not staying on the path (as if that would fend off real wolves anyway!) seems a bit extreme. I think it's important to share the message that encounters with certain men might be dangerous but Perrault's version isn't the most effective IMO (plus it just puts all the blame on the woman).