cover image Carmine: A Little More Red

Carmine: A Little More Red

Melissa Sweet. Houghton, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-38794-6

For her authorial debut, Sweet (The Boy Who Drew Birds ) offers a colorful, abecedarian take on Little Red Riding Hood. Creative details, both visual and verbal, abound as Sweet introduces Carmine as a thoughtful, creative painter whom Granny invites over for a bowl of alphabet soup, warning her to be careful and not to dawdle. The letter D demonstrates how well the heroine heeds advice: "Some people dilly-dally once in a while, but Carmine made a habit of it." The letters introduce an array of words, from unfamiliar ones children will likely have overheard ("The light was exquisite . Carmine began making a picture for Granny") to ones that just sound cool ("Everyone knows it isn't very nice to call a person, or even a bird, a nincompoop , but sometimes Carmine could not help herself"). Full-bleed spreads and panel-like progressions chart the proceedings. Carmine's dog senses trouble "lurking ," and inadvertently reveals the location of Granny's house to the wolf. Luckily, even without a woodsman (he's out of town), a happy ending is in store. Sweet's mixed-media illustrations feature penciled outlines and bright watercolor washes that could have been culled from the heroine's own notebooks. A few words lack sufficient context (for "haiku," an example is given, but an older reader will have to explain the poetic form), but this is a quibble in an overall entertaining package. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)