Review: Ninja Red Riding Hood/ Max’s Review

Ninja Red Riding Hood Cover
Ninja Red Riding Hood

Written by: Corey Rosen Schwartz

Illustrated by: Dan Santat

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2014, Hardcover

Target Audience: Ages 3-8

Genre: Fiction

Theme: Independence, Creative Problem Solving

How We Discovered This Book: We found this one in the new books bin at our library.

Summary: Red is on her way to Grandma’s house as you would expect, but how would the story be different if Red and the Wolf had taken ninja lessons? (And Grandma had taken tai chi).

What I Liked: This is a fun twist on a traditional fairytale. Each time you think you know what to expect the author throws you something unexpected.

What Did My Kids Think? I have a son who thinks ninjas are cool, and a daughter currently taking karate lessons. What’s not to love?

Resources:

There is a Pinterest Board with all kinds of ideas for companion activities, including stick puppets, worksheets, story mapping, story element activities, and even a template for writing a letter to the wolf. My favorite is a blank wanted poster where you can add in a picture of the wolf and all his “crimes.”

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Last month we introduced you to Max, a new contributor to our blog. He has his own YouTube Channel called Puppets Love Children’s Books. We’ve asked him to stop by every so often to give us his own unique perspective on picture books. Check out what Max has to say about Ninja Red Riding Hood.

Email subscribers: Please click over to this post on the website to see Max’s complete video.

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The Value of Honest Feedback

I’m a big believer in honesty. Not painful, hurtful honesty, but the idea that being upfront with people (especially friends and family) avoids much drama, misunderstandings, and unnecessary conflict.

However, for honesty to work fully we must be open to feedback. Sure, honest feedback might still sting a little, or initially rub us the wrong way, but if we can ultimately incorporate the information it can be a gift.

Take the writer’s submission process for example. Joanna and I were discussing how we hope for open feedback when we submit our work to agents and editors. Even a little open feedback instead of a standard rejection would help us to know which direction to go. Such as:

“Not really the kind of book I represent.” – Try another agent.

“Strong concept, but the prose needs tightening.” – Now you know where to focus your revisions.

“Good idea, but I wasn’t hooked at the beginning.” – Time to rework the first few chapters.

“I like the characters, but the stakes for them aren’t high enough to keep me interested.” – More work needed on the plot and character development.

Knowing how to proceed in this highly subjective art of writing is invaluable. And why I need my critique group so much. We encourage each other, make suggestions, and give balanced feedback that helps us each be better writers.

So if someone asks you for your honest feedback, consider giving it. It could make all the difference.

Choosing the Right Books for Your Advanced Reader

I have an advanced reader in my house, who devours new books. My son has read and enjoyed many of the classics, such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Indian in the Cupboard; James and the Giant Peach; Charlotte’s Web; and The Borrowers. Aidan likes the newer books too, like Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Holes, and The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He is eager to discover new series and new books, preferring fantasy and adventure topics.

He is, however, only in 3rd grade. I do not yet want him exposed to the world of middle school, nor do I want him worrying about the kinds of topics kids that age face. I do not want him to be exposed to excessive violence or death.

It is an ongoing challenge that I have in finding new quality books to read, and it is a topic I have discussed frequently with his 3rd grade teacher, Irene Drake. I’m sure many of you parents and teachers have faced the same issue.

So far, my approach has been to dig deep into the lists of “must read” books for his age, and sought recommendations from librarians, teachers, writers, and other parents. I also discovered the Scholastic Book Wizard, which with a little tweaking comes up with a list of appropriate books by Lexile Level or DRA along with age range. However, for Aidan, his reading level with a grade 3-5 filter only comes up with non-fiction books. Those are certainly helpful books for when he is in a non-fiction mood, but not always.

Joanna shared a list that her library prepared for accelerated readers. Some that caught my eye for Aidan were: The Moffat’s, The View from Saturday, The Enchanted Castle, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Whittington, and Extra Credit.

What suggestions do you have for accelerated readers? Please share in the comments.

Happy Easter and Welcome to Spring!

I find Easter and the beginning of Spring as a time of reflection, much more so than on New Year’s. In January, it is still cold and gray (and often we are knee-deep in snow), so it is hard to see the potential for the new year. For those of you who celebrate Easter (as I do), it is symbolic of rebirth, renewal, and joy. And if you’re lucky, the sun is peeking out more often and the temperates are gradually rising.

Photo by Katie Cullinan

There is promise in each day – a promise that what has incubated all winter under the snow and within ourselves is ready to blossom. You just need to look – are you ready to be brave? Take on that new challenge? Try something new? Take a bold step towards a new direction?

Best wishes for a restorative and peaceful Easter and Spring to all of you. Get out there and shake things up. What are you waiting for?