Thursday, March 24, 2016

review of "Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood" 3.24.16

If you know me, you know I love fairy tales.  There is something about the magic in them, the themes of good vs evil, lessons learned, characters changed (sometimes literally).  They are so fun!

I remember when I first heard about Rump.  It was an upcoming book by a debut author.  I was just getting on the nerdy train at that point.  I was new to blogs and Twitter, so I was only reading a few blogs, a few tweets and getting more buzz from book companies.  Based on my affinity to fairy tales, I preordered the book, not really knowing much about it.  Well, it was just as good as the buzz said, and I was a Liesl Shurtliff fan for life.  What I loved about Rump was seeing the character from a new point of view.  I knew the fairy tale version (or at least one of them), and I love the character from the TV show "Once Upon a Time" (remember, I have a thing about the villains), but this was a new look at a familiar character. I love how Shurtliff spun the tale that made us think of new possibilities.  Then Jack came out and I fell in love with a new character.  What I loved about Jack was he was complicated.  Good heart, mind full of mischief.  And when you have that, you have a wonderful troublemaker who really means well.  I love those characters - the ones who can't help but get into a little trouble.  And while absolutely not a sequel, I loved the crossover between the two books.

Image result for red the true story of red riding hood
Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood
by Liesl Shurtliff
publishes on April 12th

And now we get to fall in love with a new character, Red, as in Little Red Riding Hood.  And while Rump and Jack will always have a place in my heart, I think it's Red that I love best.  Throughout this book, there were three themes that seemed to come up again and again.  

The first was family.  In Red, our main character is out on a quest to save her beloved Granny.  Granny has fallen ill, and it's up to Red to help her out - without using magic.  Magic doesn't seem to work for her.  I loved the bond that Red has with her Granny - I loved that it was a special bond between granddaughter and grandmother.  Granny is such a wise character and the wisdom she shares with Red not only makes Red grow as a character, but teaches her about life and death.  It was exciting to see how far Red would go to save her Granny.

The next theme was the bond between friends.  Through Red's relationships with friends - both of the human and animal kind - we see Red learn how you have to sometimes look deeper to find a friend.  Sometimes the first, and maybe second, third and fourth attempts at friendship don't always work, but if you take the time to see the person inside, it may be worth the wait.  I think this is a great lesson for middle graders to read about!

Finally, the theme of destiny is woven through this story.  While not as prevalent as in Rump, I think each fairy tale character in all of Liesl's books have had to figure out their destiny and what it means for them.  I think the idea of choosing your destiny versus letting your destiny happen would be an interesting conversation for children to tackle.

I hope you find a copy of Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff on April 12th.  In the meantime, be sure and watch the trailer of the book!

I've been doing a lot of thinking about read alouds lately.  Some of the work you can do using a read aloud is to track the development of an idea in a story.  I think you can do this with any of Liesl's stories.  I would love to track character development with any of the three main characters.  There would be so much to stop and jot and write longer about or have conversations around.  If you're thinking about using a read aloud for some real purposeful work, grab one of these three!

Finally, our school was so fortunate to host Liesl at our school last week.  It was an entire day that was full of celebrating literacy and writing.  Liesl gave a couple of presentations to our younger (K/1) students and older (2/3) and each presentation focused around fairy tales.  She tailored each presentation to the age of the audience.  The students left the assembly knowing a little bit more about fairy tales and thinking a lot more about the perspective of the character.  My favorite part of the day was the workshops she gave with our 4th grade students.  Liesl worked with the 4th graders, giving them specific writing tips and helping them craft a story.  It was some of the best writing work we've seen.  The level of engagement was fantastic!  Finally, she ate lunch with some of our passionate readers and writers in 3rd and 4th grade.  Such a rewarding experience for these students.  But the day didn't end there.  Liesl came back for our evening's Family Reading Night and talked reading and writing with parents and students.  The parents were thrilled and we had so many compliments about the evening.  

If you have author visit funds, I highly recommend looking at having Liesl Shurtliff visit your school.  The work she did with students was fantastic and the message given to families about reading and writing was absolutely received!

I'll leave you with some pictures and vines (literally)!

This vine grew a little bit more each day.
The kids were amazed every morning!

Haven't read Red yet?
Check out these student book blurbs!

Hanging out with Liesl Shurtliff!  Not a bad start to your day!

teaching the younger kids about fairytales

Just doing some writer's workshop with Liesl Shurtliff!

Getting to hear a preview of Red!

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