A New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2022 ★ Everyone knows how "Little Red Riding Hood" goes. But Grandpa keeps getting the story all wrong, with hilarious results!
"Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Little Yellow Riding Hood—" "Not yellow! It's Red Riding Hood!" So begins the story of a grandpa playfully recounting the well-known fairytale—or his version, at least—to his granddaughter. Try as she might to get him back on track, Grandpa keeps on adding things to the mix, both outlandish and mundane! The end result is an unpredictable tale that comes alive as it's being told, born out of imaginative play and familial affection. This spirited picture book will surprise and delight from start to finish, while reminding readers that storytelling is not only a creative act of improvisation and interaction, but also a powerful pathway for connection and love.
Telling Stories Wrong was written by Gianni Rodari, widely regarded as the father of modern Italian children's literature. It exemplifies his great respect for the intelligence of children and the kind of work he did as an educator, developing numerous games and exercises for children to engage and think beyond the status quo, imagining what happens after the end of a familiar story, or what possibilities open up when a new ingredient is introduced. This book is illustrated with great affection by the illustrious artist Beatrice Alemagna (Child of Glass), who counts Gianni Rodari as one of her "spiritual fathers."
A New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book of 2022!
Selected for the Publishers Weekly 2022 Holiday Gift Guide
★ "Rodari’s raucous text is basically a conversation: A grandpa tells the story of 'Little Red Riding Hood' all wrong, giving the heroine a yellow hood, the wrong mission, an encounter with a giraffe and so forth. His granddaughter passionately corrects him while thoroughly enjoying each fresh deviation from the classic tale. Alemagna’s textured, inviting marker drawings provide many punch lines of their own, and the pictures become a joyful celebration of on-the-fly storytelling." —Author Emily Jenkins, judge of the 2022 New York Times/New York Public Library Best Illustrated Children's Book Award
“Alemagna’s marker-and wash-textured illustrations, predominantly composed of blobs and circles, materialize into both reality (…Grandpa’s voluminous hair and mustache, the pink-skinned child’s pink dress and gangly braids) and narrative chaos (an entire thought bubble of Riding Hoods with cloaks of various hues), leading up to a grand finale that shows Grandpa at the helm of a city bus filled with characters who have appeared in his woolgathering. When Grandpa returns to his newspaper, and his grandchild heads to the store with a quarter for bubble gum, a final hug makes it clear that they share the same sense of storytelling mischief.” —Publishers Weekly
“Here is a humorous story of a grandfather retelling ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ to his granddaughter, and telling it hilariously wrong. The child keeps correcting him, but it doesn’t seem to get him back on track. And why bother? Anyone who reads this book will see that the heart of storytelling with children is not the accurate retelling of plot but rather the connection and creative interaction between adult and child. Alemagna’s well-composed and multilayered mixed-media illustrations cleverly support the transition between the two speakers, as the narrative is related solely through dialogue; thought bubbles amusingly show the very different stories unfolding in each of the character’s heads. Young readers already familiar with ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ may enjoy this story most, but it will be great fun for all, nonetheless.” —The Horn Book
“With its combination of the absurd along with its imaginative creativity, Telling Stories Wrong is an excellent entry point for [Gianni Rodari's] writing. Lovingly executed illustrations by award-winning artist Beatrice Alemagna – who considers Rodari a ‘spiritual father’ – enhance the warmth of the story with great humor and a marvelous sense of play." —Nanette McGuinness, The Riveter
“Gianni Rodari, described as the father of modern Italian kid lit, gets a makeover here of one of his classic Telephone Tales. In this fractured version of Little Red Riding Hood, a grandpa mixes up all the particulars of the story, much to the delight of his squealing granddaughter... At each stage, the little girl emotes expressively, throwing up her arms and imagining (with squishy thought bubbles) all the right and wrong things about the story, crouching on the floor while Grandpa tries to get back to his newspaper. The star here was the fabulous illustrations, combined with gorgeous book design. Alemagna uses Magic Markers (possibly on dampened paper), which mimic watercolor and their characteristic spread, but allow her to create her own blobby version of pointillism… The large thick pages, with their buff color would make for really standout viewing of the large goofy pictures, like Grandpa and the girl racing off on a large horse (we only see their behinds, including the girl’s underwear!) with the pesky newspaper pages conveniently blowing away.” —Susan Harari, Keefe Library (Boston Latin School, Boston, MA), Youth Services Book Review
“We see nutty books all the time. The difference here is that this particular nutty book has a lot of heart and affection between the characters that comes through in spite of (or because of?) the kooky storytelling. It’s an ideal book for a grandparent to read to their own offspring’s offspring. Especially if that kid can’t stand it when grown-ups get facts wrong. Here’s one fact that isn’t wrong: This book is delightful. A win of an import.” —Betsy Bird, A Fuse 8 Production: A School Library Journal Blog
“A little girl is listening to her grandfather tell the story of ‘Little Red Riding Hood,’ but he keeps getting important details wrong... The laugh-out-loud developments will tickle readers, but by the time Grandpa finishes his rendition of ‘Little Red,’ the little girl has had enough of his stories and leaves him to his newspaper—likely the clever old man’s plan all along! Fantastic childlike illustrations by Alemagna capture the playful spirit of the story, using simple marker drawings to show all the hilarious ways Grandpa goes off script. Originally published in Rodari’s Italian classic Telephone Tales, this picture book is perfect for reading aloud and for fans of fractured fairy tales.” —Booklist
- NYT/NYPL Best Illustrated Children's Book