One of the great pleasures of Storytime magazine is that we get the opportunity to dive headfirst into stories and explore their origins. This is especially true of fairy tales, and Little Red Riding Hood was no exception.
Back in Storytime Issue 9, we featured the most classically recognised version of Little Red Riding Hood. It had wonderful illustrations by Christelle Galloux. (You can still download our adorable Little Red Riding Hood Mask here.) The story is a family favourite and should be in everyone’s fairy tale collection.
But the version that interested me most when researching the original was written in the 1800s. It’s by a French author called Charles Marelles. In his version, the main character’s red riding hood is replaced by a golden one. Not only that, but the hood has a real purpose in the story – other than looking iconic in illustrations. Even better, the main character has a name and a super-cool granny. There’s no male hero to suddenly swoop in and save them at the last minute. I actually think Little Golden Hood is far better and smarter than the ‘original’. It takes all the best-loved bits – particularly the lines children love to read along with – and improves on the source material.
For these reasons, I was really excited to put Little Golden Hood in our latest issue, Storytime 32. We’re also thrilled with the gorgeous illustrations by Martuka, who previously illustrated Little Mermaid for Storytime Issue 24.
For Little Red Riding Hood lovers, I thought I’d share 5 fun facts I’ve gathered along the way. Enjoy!
5 Fun Facts about Little Red Riding Hood
1. This famous fairy tale existed for hundreds of years and across many cultures before it was recorded as a moral ‘stranger danger’ tale by 17th century French author, Charles Perrault. In his terrifying version, Little Red Riding Hood gets into bed with the wolf before he devours her. She doesn’t escape.
2. The French title of Perrault’s story is Le Petit Chaperon Rouge. A chaperon started life as a hooded cape, but evolved into an elaborate and fashionable hat crafted from sumptuous materials like velvet or silk and was worn mainly by men. By the time of this story it had fallen out of fashion and, in a painting from roughly the same period, it looks a bit like a nun’s wimple.
3. In earlier versions from rural France and Italy, the tale was called The Story of Grandmother. There was no red hood and the wolf was actually a werewolf. In some versions, he was an ogre. The little girl has to choose between paths of pins or needles to reach her granny’s house and, when she gets there, granny has been eaten. It’s a pretty gruesome tale, but with an interesting ending – the little girl escapes using her own wit.
4. Far Eastern folklore has its own version of Little Red Riding Hood called Grand Aunt Tiger or Tiger Grandma, but folklorists are now convinced that the story has its roots in the West and was around as long ago as the first century. Folk tale nerds can find out more here.
5. By the time the Brothers Grimm tackled the tale in the 19th century, the red hood had become a cap and the huntsman who saved the day was introduced, cutting open the wolf and freeing his victims with a pair of scissors. As if that wasn’t enough, Little Red Cap fills the wolf’s tummy with heavy rocks to be certain that he dies. Clearly, revenge is best served in a completely over-the-top way!
If you enjoy reading Storytime’s Little Golden Hood, there are many books out there that put a completely new twist on this classic tale and are worth exploring too. For starters, try Alex T. Smith’s witty and wonderful Little Red and the Hungry Lion, sweet and funny Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap, and the wonderfully graphic Little Red by Bethan Woollvin.
I’d love to hear what you think of our Little Golden Hood version – could it ever replace the ‘original’ or are we just too attached to that iconic red hood? And how do you feel about new twists on classic fairy tales – love or loathe? Let me know on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and even Youtube, where we post sneak previews of our new issues. Like a good story, we get around!
See you next time for more story ponderings!