Some of the most charming children’s books are those that retell classic tales. This week’s book is an example. “Little Red Hot,” written by Eric A. Kimmel and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith, is a brand new book at the Craig Moffat County Library.
Kimmel has written several children’s books with a southwestern setting. (Find more information at the end of this review.) “Little Red Hot” is a Texan tale that focuses on hot chili peppers.
In “A Note from the Author” on the credit page at the beginning of the book, Kimmel gives the reader a little background information about chili peppers. For example, readers may not realize that there are more than two hundred varieties of chili peppers or that the Scoville Hotness Scale is used to measure the hotness of those peppers. And there’s more information, too, such as the hottest known peppers and how to safely handle hot peppers.
This book is the retelling of “Little Red Riding Hood,” the leading character of this book being Little Red Hot. As the book begins, the reader finds Little Red Hot sitting outside her cabin. Two strings of red chili peppers hang from the roof. A colorful rooster and a white hen watch as Little Red Hot eats chili peppers from a bowl. She must be planning on eating a lot of them because there’s a bucket of peppers nearby.
Little Red Hot got her name because she likes hot peppers, and she eats them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Not only that, but she prefers a birthday cake with peppers on top, instead of candles.
One day, Little Red Hot finds her mother reading a letter. It seems that Grandma is sick with a cold. Little Red Hot decides to bake a hot pepper pie and take it to Grandma to “knock those cold germs right out of her.”
So Little Red Hot opens a recipe book to a recipe for “World’s Hottest Pepper Pie.” The little white hen helps by holding an egg between her wings. Possibly the only thing that’s ordinary about this pie is the crust. The ingredients include Louisiana Hot Sauce (a substitute for milk), eggs, a slice of cheese, and the hottest peppers that Little Red Hot can find.
The labels on the pepper containers have warnings on them. For example, the Tabasco peppers “could knock over a longhorn,” and the Habanero peppers “could take the paint off the wall.” And there are more peppers and more warnings.
When she’s finished putting the pie together, Little Red Hot doesn’t even have to put it in the oven; the pie is so hot it bakes itself!
Pretty soon, Little Red Hot gets on her pony and takes off for Grandma’s house. It isn’t long until she meets up with Pecos Bill and his cowboys. They warn Little Red Hot that Senor Lobo, the Big Bad Wolf, is in the area. The Three Little Tamales told them so.
Sure enough, Little Red Hot spots a big gray animal that’s loping along on his hind legs. (He’s a pretty ridiculous sight, indeed.) The gray animal claims that he’s Senor Coyote, and he says he wouldn’t hurt a fly. But he’s Senor Lobo, and when he finds out that Little Red Hot is on the way to Grandma’s house, he takes a short cut and beats her to Grandma’s front door.
Grandma might be sick, but she’s a pretty sharp old lady. She knows a wolf when she sees one, so she and her cat jump out the window.
Little Red Hot shows up and finds the wolf in bed, and just like the original classic tale, she wonders about Grandma’s big eyes, big ears and big teeth, but this heroine has a hot pepper pie!
This is a delightful book!
“Little Red Hot” is published by Amazon Children’s Publishing (2013). The hardcover book costs about $17.99. The book can be found at the Craig Moffat County Library.
Author Eric A. Kimmel has also written “Jack and the Giant Barbecue,” “The Three Little Tamales” (an award-winning book), “The Great Texas Hamster Drive,” and “Cactus Soup” (a retelling of “Stone Soup”). Illustrator Laura Huliska-Beith has illustrated other children’s books, including “The Adventures of Granny Clearwater & Little Critter.”