Red Riding Hood reimagined

Share this post

Welcome to ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical’ Carnival

This post was written especially for inclusion in ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical’ carnival, hosted by Mother’s Milk Books, to celebrate the launch of their latest collection of fairy tales for an adult audience: The Forgotten and the Fantastical. Today our participants share their thoughts on the theme ‘Fairy tales’.

Please read to the end of the post for a full list of carnival participants.


I’m loving The Forgotten and the Fantastical, the new book of fairy-tales from Mother’s Milk Books.  I’m enjoying the diversity of the voices and the breadth of these stories, the way modern fairy-tales always feel so familiar, but at the same time so fresh and surprising.

Reading these tales inspired me to dig out a bunch of fairy-tales I wrote a while ago, and rereading them, what struck me was the rawness of the emotion, through stolen babies and mistreated children, fantastical machines and slain monsters, and in the end, that familiar sense of injustice righted, often with gory brutality.

You only have to look at the recent success of Into the Woods, or a new fairy-story like The Boxtrolls, to see this is a form that still resonates, for children and adults alike.  Stripped back, without overly complex plots, or realist character development, we understand the nub of what these stories are telling us.  And I love the way an old tale can give birth to a million new ones, how looking into the simple but powerful central dynamic at the heart of a fairy-tale can suggest new relationships, new outcomes.

So, in order to celebrate the publication of The Forgotten and the Fantastical, I’m offering up this small reimagining of Red Riding Hood, only one possible reimagining of many, just how I was feeling on one particular day…



‘Let your guilt be your guide,’ Grandma would say.


It was one of her favourites. Along with:

‘Don’t stray too far from the path there, girl,’ and

‘There’s a reason scarlet rhymes with harlot.’


I bit my tongue. Hid my red nails in my

Snow-white gloves, took off bright cloak and riding hood

Before I reached her door.


Still, it wears you down. The old bag, scowling,

Banging on and on. Bread underdone,

Scones just over. Too much salt in the soup.


‘Concentrate, child. The devil makes work for

Idle hands.’ Idle? I ask you. Trekking

Out there, day on day, no word of thanks.


I thought of saying, ‘Grandma, you know your views

Are really rather out of date.

And if you’re not nicer to me, it’s the old folk’s home for you.’


Could I say the words? Of course not.

After all this time, I found

My guilt had finally become my guide.


So, I became the wolf. And it felt good,

Shrugging on that steaming pelt,

Letting my fingernails find tips of claws.


Tearing through the forest on all fours,

Tongue lolling out, obscenely pink.

Knocking with outsized paw,

To say, ‘Why Gran, what a big mouth you have.’


The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2015 book cover

The Forgotten and the Fantastical 2015 book cover

The Forgotten and the Fantastical is now available to buy from The Mother’s Milk Bookshop (as a paperback and PDF) and as a paperback from Amazon.

It can also be ordered via your local bookshop.

Any comments on the following fab posts would be much appreciated:

In ‘Imagination is quantum ergo fairies are real’, Ana, at Colouring Outside the Lines, explains why we should all believe in fairies and encourage our children to do the same.

‘Wings’ — Rebecca at Growing a Girl Against the Grain shares a poem about her daughter and explains the fairy tale-esque way in which her name was chosen.

In ‘Red Riding Hood Reimagined’ author Rebecca Ann Smith shares her poem ‘Grandma’.

Writer Clare Cooper explores the messages the hit movie Frozen offers to our daughters about women’s experiences of love and power in her Beautiful Beginnings blog post ‘Frozen: Princesses, power and exploring the sacred feminine.’

‘Changing Fairy Tales’ — Helen at Young Middle Age explains how having young children has given her a new caution about fairy tales.

In ‘The Art of Faerie’ Marija Smits waxes lyrical about fairy tale illustrations.

‘The Origins of The Forgotten and the Fantastical — Teika Bellamy shares her introduction from the latest collection of fairy tales for an adult audience published by Mother’s Milk Books.

5 thoughts on “Red Riding Hood reimagined

  1. Pingback: Frozen: Princesses, power and awakening the sacred feminine | Beautiful Beginnings – A parent and child group in Cumbria

  2. Pingback: The Art of Faerie « Marija Smits

  3. Marija Smits

    I’m so pleased you’re enjoying ‘The Forgotten and the Fantastical’ Becky – and I’m glad it’s given you the incentive to get out your old tales.

    I think you’re completely right – raw emotion is absolutely key to the success of fairy tales and what with the (often) fantastical milieu and exciting events they’re absolutely perfect for the big screen.

    I love your poem too, by the way. I’m sure that most women will be able to relate to the young woman who has a gran/older relative who says things like ‘let your guilt be your guide’. I know that I do! Many thanks for sharing.

  4. Helen

    Wow – this blog carnival is really humbling me, with the talent on show.
    What a great combination of imagination and economy of language. Did you like the red riding hood one in The Forgotten and The Fantastical? It’s quite visceral, but similarly sinister to yours.

Comments are closed.