Sunday, March 2, 2014

to grapple

What happened to Little Red Riding Hood?
What I mean to ask is what happened to the story?
I remember the plot being pretty straight forward.
Little girl travels alone to visit sick grandmother.
Encounters wolf.
Wolf impersonates grandmother after scaring her away.
Tries to eat Little Red.
Is dispatched by an axe wielding woodsman.summoned by grandmother, who although ill, has managed to keep her cool, keep her wits about her and keep running until she finds help and returns.
Grandma the hero.
What's not to love about that story?
It teaches all kinds of marvelous things to children.
Go ahead and jot down a list.

Last week I checked out several versions of Little Red Riding Hood from the library. My grandchildren and I have been making up epic puppet tales and we have exhausted poor Goldilocks and are moving on to Little Red.
The only version I had in my own library was so watered down and sweetened up that it was barely recognizable.
Sadly, the handful of versions I brought home were no better.
One moralized by admonishing children to do as they were told to prevent trouble. Too preachy.
Another warned of stranger danger and actually scared me.
Another was written in creole slang and would have been almost impossible to read aloud. It did have a wonderful character swap in that the wicked wolf became an alligator, and the woodsman a cat with a bottle of Cajun hot sauce.
The version set in China had the mother depart to visit the grandmother whilst a wolf terrorized the children left home alone. They rose to the challenge literally by climbing a tree.

Death and danger and deceit exist in the world.
Stories are a way to grapple with those realities.
Isn't that a wonder?


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