Shannon, Margaret. The Red Wolf. Illustrated by Margaret Shannon. Houghton Mifflin, 2002. ISBN 0618055444. $15.00. 32 pp. Reviewer: Irene Halliday Reading Level: Preschool, Primary Rating: Excellent Genre: Fairy tales; Humorous stories; Subject: Fairy tales; Princesses--Juvenile Fiction; Knitting-- Juvenile Fiction; Books-Reviews; Rapunzel isn't the only young maiden to be sequestered away in a tower. Princess Roselupin has passed her first seven years locked away in her father's tower, being protected from the “wild and dangerous world.” Fortunately for Roselupin, a large, golden box arrives at the castle on the morning of her 7th birthday, with “For Roselupin” spelled out in jewels on the lid. Upon opening the mysterious gift, Roselupin finds it filled with colorful balls of wool and the note, “Knit what you want.” The laughing king requests a scarf from his daughter, but the princess looks long and hard at the box, then removes all the balls of red wool and knits all day and all night, fashioning a new red wolf suit for herself. Putting it on, she declares: “If the world's too wild for the likes of me, Then a BIG RED WOLF I'd rather be.” To Roselupin's astonishment, as soon as the words are out of her mouth, she begins to grow and grow and GROW until she bursts through the roof of the tower and leaps into the surrounding forest. What an adventure to be free to dance, leap and howl through the forest, unconsciously terrorizing the villagers and her father, who believes his little princess has been devoured by the giant wolf! How the magic wears off and Roselupin comes up with another knitting project to win another day of freedom is satisfyingly funny. Bold watercolor, pastel, and colored pencil illustrations combine with the 18-point text to perfectly complement the personality of a spunky, enterprising heroine. The author/illustrator's amusing treatment of facial expressions, especially for the worried, then puzzled, then joyous villagers, is noteworthy. Young children will be able to understand the frustration and loneliness of being locked away from other children, and will rejoice at Roselupin's discovery of a magical way to fun and freedom.
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