The Red Wolf

The Red Wolf

I am constantly on the lookout for new literature featuring strong female lead roles (and supporting roles) for my daughter, and recently I ran across some great recommendations at a website that I follow called Reel Girl. Several wonderful picture books were named, though my local library sadly only offered one. It was a fabulous book, though—so wonderful, in fact, that I went ahead and purchased a copy for my daughter, who really enjoyed reading it (multiple times!).

The book is called The Red Wolf. Written and illustrated by Margaret Shannon, it is the engaging, exciting story of a young princess whose father is afraid for her safety, so he locks her in a tower. I really liked this departure from the traditional mother/witch version, since it is often fathers who do want to lock their little girls up away from the world (remember the Cyndi Lauper song?), but moreso because it doesn’t build upon the whole evil mother/stepmother trope that I can’t stand. That said, the father is obviously only doing what he feels is best for his little girl and is not acting out of malice, which is nice, too.

But instead of relying upon some random prince to rescue her (and/or impregnate her, depending upon which version you are familiar with), this princess rescues herself. The princess, Roselupin, receives a mysterious gift (I do wish we’d find out where it came from)—a golden box filled with various colors of wool. The king laughs and tells his daughter she can knit him a scarf, but instead she knitted herself a long red wolf suit, declaring that if the world was too wild for her—as her father frequently insisted—then she would rather be a big red wolf. The costume transforms her magically into a wolf, and she then embarks on several wonderful adventures. The kingdom searches for her frantically, but she is the monster that they fear so much!

I love the story because Roselupin saves herself; my daughter loves it, too, though she also loves it because of the animal transformation (what kid doesn’t love such things?). In the end, once she is back to being a girl and is found, she thinks that her father will allow her to be free now, but she is sadly wrong—so she gets him back by (what else?) transforming him as well. It’s a really fun story about a spunky girl for spunky girls and boys to enjoy.