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Red Ridin' in the Hood: and Other Cuentos    by Patricia Santos Marcantonio & Renato Alarcao order for
Red Ridin' in the Hood
by Patricia Santos Marcantonio
Order:  USA  Can
Farrar Straus & Giroux, 2005 (2005)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Patricia Santos Marcantonio gives us eleven modern Latino retellings of classic tales: Jaime and Gabriela (Hansel and Gretel), Red Ridin' in the Hood, Blanca Nieves and the Seven Vacqueritos (Snow White), El Dia de los Muertos (Orpheus and Eurydice), Juan and the Pinto Bean Stalk, The Piper of Harmonia, Alejandro and the Spirit of the Magic Lampara, Belleza y La Bestia, Emperador's New Clothes, The Three Chicharrones (Little Pigs), and The Sleeping Beauty. Renato Alarcao's illustrations are vibrant and just a little spooky, while a glossary at the back translates Spanish terms like 'bruja' (witch).

These Latino versions add modern spice and stronger characterization to familiar classics. I especially enjoyed the young girl's attitude in Red Ridin' in the Hood and how she deals with the bad dude she encounters on Forest Street. El Dia de los Muertos takes place in Tenochtitlan, where 'white pyramids rose into the sky' - a young feather craftsman discovers that 'Happiness is sometimes as hard to hold as a cloud, even for good people.' There's a valuable lesson about hard work after Juan climbs a pinto bean stalk, while Emperador learns not to judge by appearances in Emperador's New Clothes. Blanca Nieves' evil stepmother gives her a poisoned avocado, not an apple. And Alejandro tricks the serpent who emerges from a lampara into giving him extra wishes, but also learns the true meaning of magic.

It's as much fun to spot the differences as the similarities between these tales and the originals, and there are many engaging lessons to be learned from the varied adventures in Red Ridin' in the Hood.

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