Author & Illustrator: Ed Young
Age Level: 4-8 years
Publishers: Philomel books (Putnam & Grosset Group)
The stunning illustrations draw you into the story starting with the book cover. The dramatic pose of the wolf with its eyes looking right at you is just a sample. The vivid pictures inside (set in panels) highlight the sense of movement and dark emotions as the wolf and the children try to outwit one another. Younger children may find it scary but older children will definitely be drawn in by the mystery.
Lon Po Po is another version of the Red riding Hood, from China. In this story, the mother goes to visit the grandmother, leaving her three children at home with a warning to watch out for the wolf. The wolf overhears the farewells and knocks on the door, pretending to be their grandmother. The children were cautioned about the wolf, not grandmother. They open the doors surprised to hear from her. The wolf walks in and quickly blows the lights out. As they prepare to sleep, Shang, the oldest of the three realizes that something is amiss. When she catches a glimpse of the wolf’s face Shang plots to escape from the wolf and spins a tale about gingko nuts. Together with her siblings, Shang climbs up the gingko tree under the pretext of picking some gingko nuts for the wolf. The story reaches a climax as all three children work together to outwit the wolf and get home safely.
Lon Po Po, the Caldecott Medal winner in 1990, is a great addition to your collection of children’s literature from around the world. Children will enjoy comparing and contrasting this with other versions of the story.
Here’s a read along video