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Greenberg, Martin H. & Helfers, John, eds. Little Red Riding Hood in the big bad city.

GREENBERG, Martin H. & HELFERS, John, eds. Little Red Riding Hood in the big bad city. Penguin, DAW. 312p. c2004. 0-7564-0233-6. $6.99. SA

Leading the Brothers Grimm, Perrault and their fairy-tale cohort of elves, wolves, and witches out of the woods and castles and down some mean urban streets into the hood ... that's the promise this anthology makes and sometimes delivers, although not all the stories fit the urban premise. "Modern fairy tales with a twist" might be a more accurate summary of what's cooking in this cauldron: a talking doll who saves a girl and her brother from the "Goblin Market"-like lure of the wickedly seductive mall; a crack-hitting little match girl; a guitar hero Jack confronting a music promoter ogre named B. Stalk; Peter Pan, out of luck and fairy dust, turned street hustler; a virtual Rumplestiltskin helping a harassed programmer convert data into career gold.

Some stories find inventive ways to use their city settings. "Trading Fours With the Moldy Figs" has a musical "Bigbad Wolf" trading notes with an old-time New Orleans jazz band. "Puss in D.C." takes the booted cat to the Watergate Hotel for some clever intrigue with the C.I.A., and "A Faust Films Production" suggests that Hollywood has really gone to Hell these days. Jody Lynn Nye's "Keeping It Real" offers an African American version of the elves and the shoemaker legend. These stories use urban details to give colorful life to their settings. The tone is mostly light and humorous, with a few dark touches, as befits the fairy-tale world. Characters do die, and some stories contain sexual language and situations, such as a tale of a cross-dressing Little Red Riding Hood who has more than a few surprises in her basket for the neighborhood's lecherous "wolf."

As with any multi-author collection, not all stories will resonate with every reader, but the overall quality is good. A standout is Michelle West's "The Rose Garden," yet another take on "Beauty and the Beast," that shows that in the hands of an imaginative writer, some stories can be recycled without becoming stale. Recommended for older teens who enjoy short fantasy fiction; this anthology could also be a useful title in schools where fairy tales are studied as part of a creative writing or literature unit. Kathryn Kulpa, Libn., Our Lady of Fatima H.S., Warren, RI

S--Recommended for senior high school students.

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Author:Kulpa, Kathryn
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 1, 2005
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