Sunday, October 6, 2013

Little Red Writing, by Joan Holub & Melissa Sweet (ages 6-10)

Fractured fairy tales absolutely delight my students. They love knowing what's coming and then seeing the story twist and turn in unexpected ways. I can't wait to read them Little Red Writing, a new picture book by the terrific team of Joan Holub and Melissa Sweet. It's full of puns, wordplay and creative twists that kids and adults will love.

illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Chronicle, 2013
ages 6 - 10
available at
Once upon a time in the great state of Pencilvania, a wise teacher named Ms. 2 told her class, "Today we're going to write a story!" She laid out the path each story should take, starting with an idea, characters and setting, and then adding trouble and conflict.

Little Red wondered what she should write about:
"I want to write a story about bravery because red is the color of courage. But what would a brave pencil do?"
Ms. 2 gave Little Red a basketful of powerful words to use in case she ran into trouble and warned her to stick to her basic story path. Little Red headed off into the forest, but soon "was bogged down, hindered, lost!"

I absolutely adore the way the text and pictures play off each other in this picture book. Melissa Sweet incorporates descriptive words, dialog and signs throughout her illustrations -- making the words an integral part of the pictures. Joan Holub's puns never overwhelm the story. Children know right where it's headed (of course, Little Red runs into trouble! We know the wolf is waiting for her!!). Teachers will love the way Holub incorporates writing advice - I'm sure that it will be a classic in many elementary classrooms. But really, what draws me back to this again and again is the sheer delight in Little Red's adventure.

Teachers -- definitely check out some great ideas for incorporating this into classroom lessons over at The Classroom Bookshelf blog. Chronicle Books also has a teacher's guide aligned to the Common Core.

You can get a glimpse of Little Red Writing in this preview from Chronicle Books:

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Chronicle Books. Artwork copyright ©2013 Melissa Sweet, shared with permission of the publishers. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

©2013 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. This sounds like a good companion to Janet Steven's "Little Red Pen".

  2. This is great :). Love the illustrations on cover.