Far Out Fairy Tales – Red Riding Hood, Superhero is one of the four new graphic novels from Stone Arch Books (a Capstone Imprint) aimed at grades 2 & 3. I hadn’t heard about them until I saw all four sitting in the children’s rack at Royal Collectibles. Super Billy Goats Gruff, Ninja-rella, Snow White and the Seven Robots, and Red are (obviously) variations of classic fairy tales and being the responsible comic book parent I knew I had to bring one or two home for my daughter. She’s right in the target audience and a voracious reader so Red and Ninja-rella made it into my Wednesday haul from the shop.
First the bad, though bound in what is categorized as a “perfect binding” this was far from it. A “perfect binding” is a stack of papers hot-glued on one side. The cover is then folded around the stack and the glue is re-heated to make it stick to the spine. In some cases (as in this one) several slots are carved out of the spine surface to create a stronger bond. Unfortunately for my daughter pages began coming out immediately. If you’ve ever had this happen to you then you know that once a few pages start to fall out they all follow. This is an unfortunate decision on Stone Arch’s part, this kind of binding isn’t very robust, and definitely isn’t suited to the abuse a 2nd or 3rd grader doles out on a book. But enough about that, on to the story!
Otis Frampton wrote and drew this adaptation of Little Red’s story and he is in great form. Just as in Oddly Normal (his series at Image Comics, check out our review) he creates a world that feels normal even though we’ve never been there before. I had never imagined Red as a Super Hero but I found myself nodding along as the story unfolds thinking, of course that makes sense. And that is something that really makes Otis’ work worth reading.
The story begins with Ruby Topper (get it? red cap?) driving along with her mother on their way to visit grandma for her birthday. Of course in this story grandma just happens to be the President of the United States and they’re visiting her at Camp David. On the way Ruby notices her old nemesis Professor Grimm (a werewolf of course) piloting his giant wolf robot right toward Camp David! Ruby, in order to maintain her secret identity asks her mom to pull into a rest stop so she can visit the ladies room. From there it’s don the red hood and mask then take off to thwart Professor Grimm! The action and banter is perfect and Otis even gives us Ruby’s back story (which is very well done), by the end Ruby has saved the day, kept her secret, and even laughed with her mom over a very “punny” joke.
If that was all there was I would still recommend this book but there’s actually more. Following the story we get a page detailing the history of the original Little Red Riding Hood and a page that parallels the characters from this story with their counterparts from other versions. There is also a section called “Visual Questions” which shows panels from the story and asks the reader questions about them, e.g. two sepia toned panels with the question “Why are these panels colored differently than the others? If you aren’t sure, reread the story for cues.” Then we have the author/illustrator bio page and last but not least a glossary (with words like accompanied, advisement, impertinent, triumph.) So a thirty-three page story and six pages of back-matter? This is a great series, I just hope they get enough feedback on the binding that they consider a better approach. If they do a series like this would be indispensable for classroom libraries.
Red Riding Hood, Superhero
Written by: Otis Frampton
Art by: Otis Frampton
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
Price: $5.95 paperback
Diamond Id: APR151696