Little Ruth Reddingford and The Wolf, by Hank Wesselman, Ph.D., illustratedby Raquel Abreu (Illumination Arts). Ages: 4 to 8
At long last, Little Red Riding Hood has been revised in an entirely fresh way. Nomore vulnerable wolf-munched grandma, naïve riding hood lass, or wolf cast ina villain’s role. Readers will give a warm welcome to little Ruth (Red) Reddingford,dodge ball champion of her class, who listens to her intuition’s warning of troubleas she walks through the woods to Grandma’s house. Is the white wolf going to attack?Surprise! Her nemesis turns out to be two bully boys and the wolf is a helpful spiritguardian. Red skedaddles to her Grandma’s house but the boys pursue her and pushher down. Grandma comes to the rescue with a Hopi throwing stick, the wolf nips oneof the wayward boys in the bum, and Red calls 911. Although this retribution is abit troubling, it did open up a meaningful conversation with my five year old aswe pondered different ways to deal with bully behavior. The fabulous illustrations,creative retelling, strong female characters and the idea of the wolf as a powerfulprotector make for a delightful tale.
Oliver’s Game, written and iIllustrated by Matt Tavares (Candlewick Press).Ages: 6 to 10 years
A young boy named Oliver rustles through the closet in his Grandpa’s baseball nostalgiashop and finds a Chicago Cubs uniform. Grandpa Hall tells Oliver that every itemin the shop has a tale to tell, and this time the story is Grandpa’s own heartwarmingstory of lost dreams redirected. Grandpa’s childhood dream to play for the Cubs wasthwarted when he traded his baseball uniform for a World War II soldier’s uniformand was injured in battle. Yet, he keeps his love for the game alive with a new shopand a realization that baseball is not just for the players – it is for everyone.The realistic pencil and watercolor illustrations in black-and-white and sepia tonesset a nostalgic mood and help you to hear the roar of the crowd, the crack of thebat on the ball, and to feel the power within a lost dream that is found.