The title of Diane and Christyan Fox’s clever new picture book, The Cat, the Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, the Wolf, and Grandma is quite a mouthful. Add impish characters that nearly fly across the page, and humor clearly awaits.
A particularly punctilious Cat sits reading “Little Red Riding Hood” to smart-alecky Dog who won’t be still. We all know Little Red wears a red cape. So, naturally, Dog wonders about her special powers. Is her superpower kindness? Does she hypnotize bad guys into being nice? Dog gets excited when Wolf—the bag guy—enters the story. He hopes Little Red will use kindness rays on him or maybe exploding eggs. Dog says he would notice right away if a wolf tried to dress up like his grandma. Little Red is not too bright.
Cat becomes more and more perturbed with Dog’s interruptions. When she gets to her favorite part of the story, she yells, “All the better to eat you up!” and chases Dog around the room.
Luckily, Red Riding Hood’s father arrives, chopping off the wolf’s head. “They all lived happily ever after,” Cat reads.
Dog suspects that Wolf didn’t end up so happy. He asks Cat, “Are you absolutely sure this is a children’s book?” Finally, Cat gives up on reading to Dog.
Less a story than a conversation, the language and the lively drawings of Cat and Dog’s antics will amuse children and give adult readers a break from the mundanity of more saccharine bedtime stories.
Billie B. Little is the Founding Director of Discovery Center at Murfree Spring, a hands-on museum in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.