Bites from a mixed menu

19th April 1996 at 01:00
Little Red Riding Hood, Retold by Tony Ross. Puffin Pounds 3.99. Not that different from the classic tale, despite the jacket's claims. The fact that the eponymous heroine rides a bicycle is the high-water-mark of its originality. But who said children wanted innovation. The familiar tale of the woodcutter's daughter's ill-fated mercy mission is wittily told, with amusing asides in both text and illustrations.

Oliver's Vegetables

By Vivian French. illustrated by Alison Bartlett. Hodder Pounds 4.99 Oliver only likes chips and won't eat any other vegetable, but by the end of this story he is happily wolfing down carrots and cabbage. And if the games his grandfather devises to get a more balanced diet into the lad work for Oliver, why not for one's own nutritionally obstinate offspring?

You can see the attraction for the beleaguered parent, but sadly real life rarely works out like the storybooks, and this one is not helped by the Fauve-Impressionist-splodge school of illustration which makes accurate identification of the vegetables in question a challenge.

Hilda Hen's Search Hilda Hen's Scary Night

By Mary Wormell. Gollancz Pounds 3.99

A tried-and-tested story format, married to exceptionally beautiful linocut illustrations.

In the first tale, HildaHen's quest for a place to lay her eggs takes her around the farmyard where she tries, inter alia, a bicycle basket, a stable and a washing basket before finally finding the ideal place to settle down and produce a brood of chicks.

In the second, poor Hilda tries to find her way back to the henhouse in the dark and encounters various frightening obstacles - revealed in the light of day to have been ordinary, unthreatening garden objects. Strong line and a bold butoriginal use of colour in the linocuts give these books the feel of classics.

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