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Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion

Alex T Smith
Age 5-7 years

In a delightful twist on the Red Riding Hood story, a very hungry lion is no match for Little Red. Set in a vibrant African landscape with gazelles and elephants, Little Red lives with her daddy and sets off to visit her auntie to take her medicine when she is ill. On her journey she travels over sleepy crocodiles, catches a lift on an elephant and meets a lion on the way who plans to eat her. But he has underestimated Little Red who decides to teach the lion a thing or two.

This is a very funny story with an assertive heroine. You and your child will have great fun sharing the story and looking closely at the details in the fabulous colourful illustrations; the double page picture of the lion with his hair braided is hilarious.

Children may make their own connections to the traditional story as you begin the book, but they can enjoy Little Red without knowing it. You could tell them the Little Red Riding story afterwards or show them the version in our find out more section below.  


Before starting to read the story aloud 
Look at the cover together. Have a chat about what this story might be about and the clues in the pictures. Children might notice the connection to the Little Red Riding Hood story.

Read the story aloud
Pause when your child wants to look more closely at illustrations or talk about what’s happening.

Join in
Encourage your child to follow the arrows showing Little Red’s journey with a finger over the page. Children could join in with some of the phrases eg  ‘under the giraffes’, ‘over the sleepy crocodiles’ and they could use their finger again to follow the numbered steps in the lion’s cunning plan.

Talk about the story

  • Talk about your favourite or funniest parts of the story.

  • Look back at some of the illustrations – there are lots of details to spot for example did you both notice the lion hiding behind a tree watching Little Red as she moves through the forest?

  • Talk about what might happen next if there was another story about Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion?

Little Red and the very hungry lion

We acted out the story with puppets one evening

We were very excited by the cover of this book; we loved the illustrations with the expressions on their faces and the lion’s huge hair and Little Reds tiny arms. We talked about the name ‘Little red’ and Lizzie was sure it was nothing to do with red riding hood as it wasn’t a wolf, she did become convinced of a link when things were packed into a basket. Lizzie loves books where she you are meant to  touch the pages so she enjoyed following the journey through the jungle with her finger and naming the different animals.

The colours used on the pages were just so vibrant and fun that it is a treat to read and you want to turn the book to see the pictures as much as see the story develop. She really enjoyed the hand written plan as this is not something, she has seen in picture books before and enjoys the arrows which she used to retell the plan.

We spent a lot of time looking and marvelling at the lion’s hair and loved the huge page with the dirty teeth (teeth definitely got brushed well on days we read this book). Lizzie has really started to add expression to her reading so books like this that use larger or different fonts really help her when she joins in. Her favourite part is the very last line which she enjoys joining in with. We have just got a kitten who is a delight but jumps up onto tables etc and is very interested in our food so Lizzie absolutely loves the last line of the books and loves giggling at the kitten saying ‘No, Bad kitty!’

It is a really engaging book with loads of opportunities for discussion and engagement and we have enjoyed reading and re-reading it.

We had a look at the activities and decided we would make our own jungle to tell the story. We managed to find most of the animals or some excellent substitutes and use them to retell the story. We did it a few times, adding details and enjoying the different ways of moving around and adding animal noises. We then left the physical story map on the rug and little brother played with the animals and the termite mounds making up his own stories and roleplay.

We decided to do the painting activity next. We had some charcoal and inspired by the book we coloured in some animal silhouettes and used them to add to some paintings. Lizzie really enjoyed using a small range of colours and blending the colours together and it was a really lovely activity that we enjoyed doing together. It also produced some really effective and distinctive art work which we are both proudly displaying in the kitchen.

We wanted to play a game next so had a lovely time sneaking up on each other pretending to be little red and the lion. Next time they wanted a lion costume and to play it outside hiding behind trees.

We finished off with a little think about what red should have packed in her basket.

We thought the lions hair was very funny and enjoyed the opporutinty to have a go at doing a lions hair. Lizzie cut some hair out and then deicded lots of bows and clops would make the lion cross.

The whole family really enjoyed this fabulous book and had a lot of fun with the great range of activities. Great book and great fun exploring the book more through role play, art, games, writing and drawing.

Things to make and do

Make the story world
Use a large space inside or out to create Little Red’s journey using construction kits and small figures to represent the different animals and people or make small figures from recycled card with the base folded so they stand up. Look back at the book together and talk about what to include.

Tell the story
Use your story world to tell the story together. With one small figure as Little Red take her on her journey from home to Auntie’s house past the pool, the trees and animals on the way narrating the story .. Don’t forget to pause for a rest so the lion can approach her!

Play a game
With one of you as the lion and the other as Little Red ‘asleep.’  See if the lion can creep up on Little Red without her hearing him.

Design a hairstyle and an outfit for the lion
Your child might enjoy designing their own hairstyle and outfit for the lion – plaits or ponytail or piled on top? Ribbons or bows?  What else might Little Red give him to wear?

Little Red’s emergency kit and instructions
Write Little Red’s instructions for how to deal with a hungry lion and list of essential kit (eg this might include a hairbrush or toothpaste). Your child might like to pin their instructions on a door, fence or tree.

Make a mini information book
Make little Red’s mini zig zag book about African wild animals. See the link below for information. Your child could choose a few animals from the story and write a page for each.

Paint a colourful picture
This picture book is full of ‘hot colours’ reds, oranges, pinks. Your child might like to paint their own picture of a hot place like Little Red’s world using these colours.

Find out more

Watch an animation of Little Red Riding Hood from Oxbridge Baby

Another version
For another take on the story of Red Riding Hood see The Last Wolf by Mini Grey 

Find out about animals
There are lots of African animals mentioned in the story including meerkats and gazelles as well as elephants and giraffes. See here

Read more books by Alex T Smith. Titles include

Claude series inc Claude and the City

Mr Penguin series inc Mr Penguin and the Lost Treasure

How Winston Delivered Christmas

Foxy and Egg