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Archive for April, 2012


Little Red Riding Hood

I used this traditional tale to give a network of carers – who had never thought of themselves as creative writers – the opportunity to  reflect on character and consequences. They were empowered but the opportunities to listen, discuss, select and develop their own versions. This story opens up the possibilities of having choices, a voice and the means to express it.

The Story

Once upon a time, there was a lovely young woman named Little Red Riding Hood.  She lived with her mother in a cottage on the edge of a Forest. Her grandmother lived at the other side of the Forest but close enough to visit often with lots of lovely treats for her lovely granddaughter.

 

Then one very sad day, her mother told Little Red Riding Hood, “Your grandmother is not feeling very well today. Take these treats over to her – for a change! It will make her happy and she’ll feel better.”

 

Little Red Riding Hood set off carrying all the delicacies that her grandmother could wish for in her basket. The sun was shining and she knew her grandmother would enjoy the treats. She felt today would be a good day.

 

Then, on the forest path, she met a tall, strong stranger.

 

“Where are you going, my lovely?” asked the tall, strong stranger.

 

“To my grandmother’s cottage,” Little Red Riding Hood replied and explained how ill her grandmother was feeling.

 

“Oh, the poor dear old lady!” said the tall, strong stranger. “Why don’t you pick some flowers for her, too?”

 

“Now that would be a very good idea,” said Little Red Riding Hood – always willing to do that little bit extra.

 

So she spent the next few hours looking for all the most beautiful wild flowers of the Forest. And, although she grew very tired, she kept on looking – because she loved her grandmother very much.

 

Then she noticed the sun was almost completely gone. And, although the moon shone and the stars were out in the night sky – she could no longer see anything very well. The trees arched over her and the darkness frightened her.  So she ran to her grandmother’s cottage, hoping her grandmother would have a good fire lit and candles burning – as she usually did.

 

But, when she arrived, all was dark and strange. If anything, the cottage was even darker and colder than the Forest.

 

“Of course,” the young girl remembered, “grandmother is ill.”

 

So she crept around the kitchen. She wanted to make the old woman a warm drink, light the fire and set the flowers in a vase where she could see them. Her poor sick grandmother could then have all the treats she had carried through the Forest especially for her.

 

 But – before she could arrange all this – Little Red Riding Hood heard a movement from the bed. And, candle in hand, she turned round.

 

What she saw terrified her!

 

“This illness – it’s so changed you, grandmother!” she cried. “What big eyes you have?”

“All the better to see you with?”

“What big hands you have?”

“All the better to grab you with!”

“What big teeth you have!”

“All the better to eat you with.”

 

And the much-changed grandmother leapt from the bed, seizing hold of the girl so tightly it hurt. Only then did she recognise the tall, strong stranger of the Forest.

 

“You are not Grandmother. You are the Wolf! What have you done with Grandmother?”

 

But the Wolf didn’t bother with explanations. He just swallowed Little Red Riding Hood whole.

 

However, inside the Wolf, she found her grandmother and the two women – the old and the very young – wept together. But tired, worn out by misery, neither had any idea what to do next.

 

Then, a hunter appeared  . . .

To empower the listeners, I stopped the story at this point and offered them a number of endings to choose from and the opportunity to develop their own.The rest of the session followed these lines.

A Happy Ending? Really?

Which of these endings do you think most likely?

Ending 1) but the hunter was too late.

 

Ending 2) The hunter drew out his hunting knife and fought with the Wolf. Then, when the Wolf was dead, the hunter heard the women cry out in his stomach. And the hunter cut open the Wolf and released them. He was glad he had done so when he saw how beautiful Little Red Riding Hood was. He married LRRH. And the grandmother and the mother then lived happily to the end of their days with Little Red Riding Hood and her hunter.

 

Ending 3) After such a heavy meal, the Wolf fell asleep and the hunter – hearing the women weeping inside the animal – cut open his stomach and released Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. Little Red Riding Hood then placed stones in the Wolf’s stomach. When the Wolf woke up, he tried to chase the old woman and her young grandaughter but the stones weighed him down and killed him.

Ending 4) What else could anyone have done to change the ending? James Thurber, in The Little Girl and the Wolf took out a gun from her basket and shot the predator. Do you have your own ideas how to end this story? Discuss in pairs.

After this, I invited members of the group to share what had come up for them – both in relation to the story and on a personal level. Any group enduring any distressing situation could benefit from the opportunities presented by this sort of story session.

 

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