So when Eric told us our next assignment was to do a cover for a young-adult version of Little Red Riding Hood that was "ANY direction: sci fi red riding hood, or steampunk, or traditional, or urban gothic fantasy", all I saw was "steampunk". Done.
And of course as soon as I started imagining what the world and who this character was, a story started to grow in my head.
But first, I had to rewrite the original and incorporate all my favorite pieces. Because I am OCD that way.
Little Red Riding Hood lived on the edge of the forest with her parents. One day, her mother gave her a basket of food to take to her grandmother’s house.
“Stay on the path,” said her mother, “and go straight to Grandma’s house.”
So Little Red set out. Along her way, she saw a field of wildflowers and stepped off the path to gather some for her grandmother. There were woodcutters working nearby, so when a wolf stepped out of the forest and spoke to her, Little Red was not afraid.
“What are you doing little girl?” asked the wolf. He was very hungry and had a very great mind to eat her up, but he dared not, because of the woodcutters.
“I am picking flowers for my grandmother,” said Little Red. “I am going to visit her; my mother has given me a basket of food to give my grandmother.”
“I see,” said the Wolf. “Does she live nearby?”
“Oh, yes,” replied Little Red, “just over that hill and past the mill.”
“I see,” said the Wolf with a sly look in his eye. “Little girl, why are you picking flowers here? Surely those yonder are far more beautiful and would please your grandmother better than these.”
Little Red looked, and indeed, she thought, the flowers were far more beautiful. And so she took up her basket and went to gather more flowers for her bundle. And each time she picked one, she thought she saw a more beautiful one farther off, and so she wandered farther and farther into the woods.
Meanwhile, the Wolf was running towards the grandmother’s house, chuckling to himself over his cleverness. Soon he came to the grandmother’s door and knocked.
“Who’s there?” called Little Red’s grandmother.
“It’s me, Grandmother,” cried the Wolf, “Little Red, and I have brought you a basket of food from my mother.”
“Oh, come in dear,” replied the grandmother, “just push the latch, I am not feeling well enough to get out of bed today.”
The wolf pushed the latch, stepped inside, and ate the grandmother. Then, quickly putting on her clothes and nightcap, he got into the bed and covered himself with the bedclothes to wait for Little Red.
Little Red, having gathered all the beautiful flowers she could carry, hurried on towards her grandmother’s house. When she got there, she called out, “Grandmother, let me in and see the beautiful flowers I have brought you!”
“Come in, child, come in,” said the Wolf in the grandmother’s voice, “I am too sick to get up, just let yourself in.”
So Little Red opened the door and went to her grandmother’s bed. But her grandmother looked very strange.
“Grandmother,” cried Little Red, “what big ears you have!”
“All the better to hear you with, my dear,” replied the Wolf.
Looking closer, Little Red said, “Grandmother, what big eyes, you have!”
“All the better to see you with my dear,” replied the Wolf, smiling.
“Oh,” cried Little Red, in even greater astonishment, “What big teeth you have, Grandmother.”
“Well,” replied the Wolf, taking off the nightcap, “All the better to eat you with, my dear.”
And he gobbled up Little Red.
Now, the Wolf was very full by this time, and he lay back down on the Grandmother’s bed, fell asleep, and began to snore. Loudly.
Soon, a woodcutter came along, and passing by the grandmother’s house thought, “How can an old woman snore like that?” So he decided to investigate. He stepped inside, and can you imagine his surprise when he saw no sign of the grandmother, only a great, ugly, fat wolf snoring away in the grandmother’s bed.
“Well, this won't do,” he thought to himself. “He must have eaten the old woman and lay down to sleep it off.” Taking a pair of very sharp scissors, he cut open the Wolf’s belly. Out jumped Little Red and the grandmother who were, quite rightly, very thankful to the woodcutter for his help. Together they dragged the wolf outside where the woodcutter took his ax and chopped off the wolf’s head.