Mar 10, 2016

Blog Tour: Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff

Hello, lovelies! Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesel Shurtliff! This is such a fun tale about a girl who's typically known for little else than going through the woods to Grandma's house and instead finding someone with a very big mouth, ears, and teeth. Shurtliff's version goes beyond all that and tells us about a Red we've never really known. I'll be sharing my thoughts on this adventurous story today, and there's a giveaway--all the better for you to eat the book up, my dears.

TitleRed: The True Story of Red Riding Hood
Author: Liesl Shurtliff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Publishing Date: April 12, 2016
Pages/Format: 288, ARC

"Red is the most wonder-filled fairy tale of them all!”—Chris Grabenstein, New York Times Bestselling author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library.

Red is not afraid of the big bad wolf. She’s not afraid of anything . . . except magic.

But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness.

With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman—two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for. . . .
Liesl Shurtliff weaves a spellbinding tale, shining the spotlight on a beloved character from her award-winning debut, Rump

Book in One Word: Red-riffic!

Something about Middle Grade novels just hits the spot. They can tackle serious, dark subjects but present them in a way that's light and not weighing down on you while you read. Plus, they tend to be such fun, and that is definitely the case with Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood. Now, based on that title, you'd expect a retelling that's a longer version of a girl travelling alone through the woods to Grandma's house and finding something with a big mouth, ears, and teeth, oh my, yes? I'm pleased to say that you'd be quite wrong. Instead you'll find an original tale about Red Riding Hood, featuring other fairy tale superstars, a hunstman and a wolf, an adventure through The Woods, a magical red cloak, and a girl trying to save her grandmother.

Red is scared of using magic. Her grandmother's The Witch of the Woods and wields magic for this and that, but things always go awry when Red says a spell. (The book opens with "The first time I tried my hand at magic, I grew roses out of my nose.") When one spell goes so off kilter that Red almost kills her grandmother, she gives up magic for good--no good ever came of it for her, anyway. But then Grandma gets sick, and it's up to Red to save her. She could collect all the ingredients for the Curious Cure-All--including one drop of pixie venom (wear gloves), one pair of tree-nymph wings, and seven wolf hairs (best when fresh)--or she could find a way to keep her grandma from ever dying. With the help of a slightly-annoying girl named Goldie, Red, along with the help from a few somewhat familiar faces, travels through The Woods in an attempt to find the most powerful cure of all: immortality.

Red tackles accepting death, getting over our fears, and seeing that people are not always what they seem. At one point, Red asks herself a question: "Who was the monster, here?" I love it when stories play with that whole "who is the monster and who is the man?" concept, defying the norm of who's good and who's evil and switching them up. I think that's fantastic, and it's definitely at play in a few ways in Red, but I won't tell you how or with who (because of spoilers, of course). It's like Red says: "Funny, that we always told stories with wolves and beasts and demons as villains, but in real life it seemed the humans were always the worst enemies. You could be your own villain." I love that, and I love how this story was so very lightly about the typical Red Riding Hood and that it was more heavily something all its own.

Liesl Shurtliff colors outside the lines a lot in Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood, and I'm pleased that she did. This never quite felt like a story about Red Riding Hood, but I think it worked well that way. Instead Shurtliff created this character who, while strong, wasn't invincible, and gave her a sort of hero's quest to go on. And it didn't hurt that Red encountered several well-known fairy tale characters along the way--and that they, too, differed from their origin stories. All Red wanted was to save her grandmother, but while on her quest she finds friendship in unexpected places, learns that living forever may not be all its cracked up to be, magic doesn't have to be feared, and that, while she can be strong on all her own, it does't hurt to have some company. As a certain character says, "Life is like a story. It doesn't mean anything if it doesn't end." Or does it?

Did I like it? Yes!
Did I love it? No, but not in a bad way, if that makes sense.
Would I reread it? I don't think I have any need to, but I wouldn't mind reading the previous books.
Would I purchase it? I liked it, but I'm not in any need to have it on my shelves.
Who would I recommend it to? This is an excellent story for lovers of fairy tales and Little Red Riding Hood, as well as those who like their stories filled with wit and adventure and enjoyment.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Liesl Shurtliff was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah, with the mountains for her playground. Just like Rump, Liesl was shy about her name, growing up. Not only did it rhyme with weasel, she could never find it on any of those personalized key chains in gift shops. But over the years she’s grown to love having an unusual name—and today she wouldn’t change it for the world!

Before she became a writer, Liesl graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in music, dance, and theater. She now lives in Chicago with her husband and three young children, where she still dreams of the mountains.

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  1. Lovely review, Rachel! It sounds really cute, I do like middle grade novels. Plus I have a nephew who's turning 9 so I get to pick out books for him and his little sister, yay!

  2. A fairy tale that's always stuck with me since I was a kid reading an old Grimm Brothers collection was The Maiden Without Hands. Sounds morbid, but it's a beautiful story.


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