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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Telling Stories Wrong
by Gianni Rodari
Age Range: 6-8
There are some stories, especially fairy tales and fables, that everybody knows—sometimes, any deviation from the original version of the story can seem like treason to one who knows the story so well that they could recite it upside down with their eyes closed. In Italian author, Gianni Rodari’s Telling Stories Wrong, translated by Antony Shugaar, the story of Little Red Riding Hood is being told all wrong! Grandpa tells the plot of the story to his granddaughter, but the granddaughter corrects all the details of the story so that they reflect the original version of the story. For instance, the granddaughter corrects the storytelling so that Red’s cloak is red instead of yellow, and Red meets a wolf instead of a giraffe.
The text of Telling Stories Wrong is taken from the classic Telephone Tales, a collection of Italian bedtime stories that won the 2020 Batchelder Award and the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs Translation Prize. Each of the stories in Telephone Tales could be told in their own individual book, such as this particular story in Telling Stories Wrong. It is fitting that this particular excerpt from Telephone Tales gained traction as its own book because it fits with the theme of bedtime stories.
What makes Telling Stories Wrong so charming is its playfulness; hearing the story of Little Red Riding Hood told in such a silly way lets the reader reflect on the importance of each detail of the story. Beatrice Alemagna’s illustrations contribute to the light nature of the story, containing lots of fun geometric shapes, like dots, to capture the entirety of a picture.
Catherine Hurwitz (Apr22)