Elya, S. M. (text), & Guevara, S. (illus.). (2014). Little Roja Riding Hood. Putnam. 32 pages.
Audience: Grades PreK-3
Kayla Hlad (she/her)
MLIS Student, Kent State University iSchool
Elya and Guevara’s Little Roja Riding Hood gives the traditional narrative new life with modern references and Spanish vocabulary. For example, this picturebook begins with Little Roja’s mother asking Little Roja to visit her abuela (grandmother) while telenovelas play in the background. Later, when the wolf arrives at Abuela’s house in full disguise, he finds her sitting in bed with a laptop. Although the wolf tries to trick Little Roja and Abuela, the pair catch on and stop the wolf’s plan with a splash of hot soup. In the end, these two leading ladies come away with some practical lessons: have a lock on your door, check the door’s peephole before answering, and be less trusting of strangers.
Elya’s rhyming text is extremely well crafted, creative, and full of fun-filled surprises, making this a great read-aloud. While most of the Spanish terms are comprehensible by context, a glossary at the beginning of the book provides more support. This allows the author more freedom in rhyme and grants more authenticity to the work while ensuring reader comprehension. The detail in the illustrations, from the presence of the three blind mice to the accompanying birds’ constant warnings, truly adds to the narrative and invites readers‒children and adults‒to actively engage with the picturebook again and again.