Thursday, January 29, 2015

Learning from Picture Books - Ninja Red Riding Hood

I love mixed-up fairy tales and today’s feature is a fun one! For writers, it shows how effective it can be to put a new, creative twist on a classic story. As a teacher, I know this story with its comic-style illustrations will really hold student interest in a read aloud.

Here's the summary from Amazon:

Wolf just can’t catch a break! Ever since the three little pigs started teaching everyone Ninja skills, huffing and puffing just hasn’t been enough to scare up a good meal. 

His craving for meat sends Wolf to classes at the dojo, and soon he’s ready to try out his new moves. A little girl and her tiny granny should be easy targets—right?

Not if Little Red has anything to say about it! Kiya!

Ninja Red Riding Hood by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Dan Santat was first published in 2014 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York. 

Check out this fun trailer.

My thoughts as a writer:

This story incorporates the rhyme so seamlessly it’s a great one to study if you’re taking on the challenge of writing in rhyme. The concept of this story—re-envisioning the original with Ninja’s—is an impressive hook. It’s worth reading this story a few times to study how the author wove the concept through all aspects of the story. The story is also a great model for pacing and effective page turns.

My thoughts as a teacher:

This would be a good story for older primary students to read after reading and studying the classic version of Little Red Riding Hood. Students can look for similarities and differences. The colorful, comic-style illustrations are eye-catching, and offer an opportunity to explain speech bubbles. 

For classroom use, this story might require some discussion about whether fighting is the best way to solve problems, but it would be an engaging way to start. The ending might also require some discussion about respecting other people's choices and views (e.g., about vegetarianism).

Activities to go with this book
 - have students create their own fractured fairy tale in a comic style
- create posters or videos about good ways to solve problems
- read The Three Ninja Pigs by the same author-illustrator team and talk about the style of illustrations

If you're looking for more great picture books to read to your class or to investigate as a writer, author Susanna Leonard Hill has a wonderful list of Perfect Picture Books.


  1. Looks cute. I think this had to happen. LRR takes on the wolf herself, and doesn't need the woodsman's help, thank you very much. :)

  2. This mash up is brilliant. Corey is such a nimble rhymer, the stanzas dance off the pages!

    1. I know. I read it a couple of times, just to admire the rhyming!

  3. I keep seeing this book. Great review with activities. You have sold me. My granddaughter would love this. Like the humor.

  4. This book looks awesome! I love your ideas for activities to go along with it as well.

  5. I am smiling at the signed copy of this one! Corey's rhythm makes me want to dance and read at the same time.

  6. Wolf reminds me of that ne'er do well, Wile E. Coyote. Poor guy....can't get a break. :d

  7. The cover alone is eye popping and certainly get little hands picking it up. Great fun read for the kids.

  8. This certainly is one that kids will want to grab hold of! KIYA! indeed!!!

  9. Love Corey - and this book! Great pick - and some fabulous ideas from you. Thanks!


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