Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
No doubt about it--Caldecott Medalist Montresor has a unique, often disturbing artistic vision in his works. This has never been more evident than in his interpretation of Perrault's classic tale. The artist adheres closely to the source, an unrepentantly grisly story that rarely appears in its original form. His Red Riding Hood is a model of earthy innocence; the wolf an urbane, dapper figure turned out with hat and walking stick. Played out against Montresor's trademark dark backdrops, the story unfolds with a theatrical simplicity that accentuates its violent and even sexual undertones. Accompanied by an appropriately gruesome illustration, the tale ends abruptly and segues into an uneasy visual denouement: Red Riding Hood floats inside the wolf's swollen stomach across the final three wordless pages. When the hunter appears in the background on the final page, no clue is given as to his purpose and there is no hint of redemption. Older children and adults may well be riveted by the ambiguity and ferocity here, but youngest readers--raised on more benign versions of the tale--will probably be scared out of their socks. Ages 4-up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Susie Wilde
Kelley makes a significant contribution to picture books for young adults with his skillful rendition of Irving's classic The Legend of Sleepy Hallow. Kelley drew his inspiration from the painters of the late 18th century. He uses style, color and light to reflect the tones of the Flemish masters and revive the Hudson Valley life of the early Dutch settlers. Green predominates, giving a woodsy feel while creating a strong sense of setting and time. Kelley also adopts the illustrative vision of the 1700's where he depicts a horse galloping with front and back legs extended, as they were in the period (artists didn't have photography to show them that a horse doesn't gallop that way). All these things add to the feeling of the period.
School Library Journal
Gr 4 Up-- From the cover illustration, which both descends from and pays tribute to Gustave Dore's wood engraving of Little Red Riding Hood and the wolf, to the melancholy black endpapers, Montresor has provided a reinterpretation that is both astonishing and esoteric. Although Montresor chooses to omit it, Perrault himself appended a highly didactic moral in verse. In it he warns ``. . . pretty girls, who're bred as pure as pearls,. . . they may serve one day as feast for a wolf or other beast.'' It is the subtext and cryptic nature of the tale that Montresor enlarges and underscores masterfully. In disturbing illustrations heavily overlaid with black, he piles up images and scenes that will haunt readers: a graceful prepubescent Red Riding Hood who is watched silently by the town's women and girls, voyeurs at some obscure rite of passage; the encounter with the beguiling, dapper wolf; the palpable pause as Red Riding Hood stands, uncertain at the dark forbidding threshold of Grandmother's house; the wolf greedily devouring Red Riding Hood head first; three wordless illustrations following the end of the text in which the girl floats cruciformly, transformed and serene, within the distended belly of the wolf--seemingly ready for rebirth, absorbed into the unending chain of reproduction. While Montresor offers an ostensibly straightforward text, he has altered Perrault's original intent both by omitting the concluding moral and by silhouetting the figure of the Grimms's hunter on the final plate. His daring, enigmatic illustrations, saturated with layers of mysterious symbolism, are clearly his vehicle for reinterpretation. It is difficult to assign an appropriate age for this work, but it clearly does not belong on the picture-book shelves. Large folklore collections should consider this provocative version that will reward with endless possibilities for study, discussion, and comparison. --Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Greenwich, CT
Many folk-art paintings illustrate this simplified retelling of Washington Irving's "Legend of Sleepy Hollow". Varied in size from small vignettes to double-page spreads, the colorful paintings are reminiscent of the works of Moses' great-grandmother, better known as Grandma Moses. A large-format picture book that will fill a need in some libraries.
The unabridged text of Washington Irving's classic folktale is illustrated by Gary Kelley's evocative color chalk drawings and b&w gravestone rubbings. 8x13". Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read an Excerpt
The Author's Account of Himself
I am of this mind with Homer, that as the snaile that crept out of her shel was turned eftsoones into a Toad, and thereby was forced to make a stoole to sit on; so the traveller that stragleth from his owne country is in a short time transformed into so monstrous a shape that he is faine to alter his mansion with his manners and to live where he can, not where he would.
I was always fond of visiting new scenes and observing strange characters and manners. Even when a mere child I began my travels and made many tours of discovery into foreign parts and unknown regions of my native city; to the frequent alarm of my parents and the emolument of the town cryer. As I grew into boyhood I extended the range of my observations. My holy day afternoons were spent in rambles about the surrounding country. I made myself familiar with all its places famous in history or fable. I knew every spot where a murder or robbery had been committed or a ghost seen. I visited the neighbouring villages and added greatly to my stock of knowledge, by noting their habits and customs, and conversing with their sages and great men. I even journeyed one long summer's day to the summit of the most distant hill, from whence I stretched my eye over many a mile of terra incognita, and was astonished to find how vast a globe I inhabited.
This rambling propensity strengthened with my years. Books of voyages and travels became my passion, and in devouring their contents I neglected the regular exercises of the school. How wistfully would I wander about the pier heads in fine weather, and watch the parting ships, bound to distant climes. With what longing eyes would Igaze after their lessening sails, and waft myself in imagination to the ends of the earth.
Further reading and thinking, though they brought this vague inclination into more reasonable bounds, only served to make it more decided. I visited various parts of my own country, and had I been merely a lover of fine scenery, I should have felt little desire to seek elsewhere its gratification, for on no country have the charms of nature been more prodigally lavished. Her mighty lakes, like oceans of liquid silver; her mountains with their bright aerial tints; her valleys teeming with wild fertility; her tremendous cataracts thundering in their solitudes; her boundless plains waving with spontaneous verdure; her broad deep rivers, rolling in solemn silence to the ocean; her trackless forests, where vegetation puts forth all its magnificence; her skies kindling with the magic of summer clouds and glorious sunshine-no, never need an American look beyond his own country for the sublime and beautiful of natural scenery.
But Europe held forth the charms of storied and poetical association. There were to be seen the masterpieces of art, the refinements of highly cultivated society, the quaint peculiarities of ancient and local custom. My native country was full of youthful promise; Europe was rich in the accumulated treasures of age. Her very ruins told the history of times gone by, and every mouldering stone was a chronicle. I longed to wander over the scenes of renowned achievement-to tread as it were in the footsteps of antiquity-to loiter about the ruined castle-to meditate on the falling tower-to escape in short, from the commonplace realities of the present, and lose myself among the shadowy grandeurs of the past.