Thump, thump, thump. The Red Dread is on the loose. Is anyone safe?
A group of animals are afraid of the strange creature known as ‘the red dread’. They huddle together as it thumps around, before realising that it is their own terrified heartbeats. The story uses few words, but captures the experience of fear and panic. Tension is relieved with silly comments and questions such as ‘has anyone seen my shoes?’ and ‘Rabbit did have smelly feet’. These unexpected lines are sure to raise a laugh from young readers.
The story relies as much on the illustration as it does on words. It uses a small vocabulary to great effect, and would be a lovely book to help a reader gain confidence. Words such as ‘thump’ and ‘gulp’ are repeated many times. Once a word is learned the child is rewarded with many chances for reuse, meaning the reader gets the satisfaction which comes with word-recognition. Speech bubbles and bubble-text make the experience more cartoon-like, and hopefully less intimidating for reluctant readers.
This apparently simple story is told in such a way that you are right there with the animals, holding your breath for the moment the Red Dread attacks. The illustrations add to this immersive experience.
The illustrations are explosive! They are full of energy and character. Textured backgrounds contrast with vivid pictures in the same reds, oranges and yellows. The animals gain lots of character from their expressions, which tell the story of their fear as much as the words. This would be a lovely book to encourage collage and drawing – make the background first, then draw and stick-on pictures of animals.
This will undoubtedly become one of those books which is read and reread for the pleasure of hearing a favourite line or word. Excellent for building excitement about reading.
The Red Dread
Many thanks to Barrington Stoke and Kirsten Lamb for my copy. Opinions remain my own.