La nuit du visiteur
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  • La nuit du visiteur
  • Benoît Jacques
  • Published by: N/A
  • Level: Beginner
  • First Published in: 2008

La nuit du visiteur, by Benoît Jacques, is a cheeky retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairytale.

REVIEW BY Sarah de Latte Book EXPERT
Review posted: 26/03/2014

The illustrated book La nuit du visiteur, by Benoît Jacques, is a cheeky retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairytale. Originally a French story written down in the 17th century by Charles Perrault, many writers have retold it in countless poetic ways. But Benoît Jacques gives us a fresh take, focusing on a very specific moment, when the Big Bad Wolf tricks the Little Red Riding Hood’s grandma into letting him enter her home.

"A cheeky retelling of the classic Little Red Riding Hood fairytale."

Each spread in the book alternates between the Big Bad Wolf (or “Le Grand Méchant Loup”), as he attempts to trick the grandma into opening the door, and the grandma’s deaf responses. During the first half of the book, the wolf convinces the grandma that he comes from a delivery service, specializing in food for the elderly. He claims he is bringing some “barbe a papa” (cotton candy). The drawing next to the text engages in visual wordplay, as the wolf morphs into a man with a large beard, or in French, “une barbe.” The wolf also uses expressions like “passer à table” (let’s eat), “petit plats” (simple and hearty dishes), “plateau-repas” (meals on a tray), and “tentée par une pince de crabe/homard?” (tempted by some crab or lobster?). Grandma misunderstands every phrase and does not let the wolf in, so the insistent and scheming visitor becomes impatient. He says, “Ouvrez votre huis” (Open your door) and “Le plat refrrroidit,” with a rolling “r” to emphasize that the “dish is getting cold” and that grandma should open her door urgently.

At this point, the Big Bad Wolf morphs into between humans, creatures, and animals. In one absurd joke, the wolf changes into a giant beetle and says, “Agrandir la bouche m’esquinte les mandibules d’insect” (Stretching my mouth – presumably, to eat the grandma – is wrecking my mandibles). This makes the grandma especially confused about what her visitor is saying. Finally, the Big Bad Wolf rudely shouts, “Je n’ai pas que ça à faire” (I have better things to do with my time), adding, “Je sors me gonds” (I’m becoming unhinged) and “Je me lasse” (I’m becoming weary), before finally announcing, “Cette fois ma colère se déchaîne!” (This time my anger is out of control). By this point, the wolf has completely destroyed the grandma’s house, but to no avail. The grandma merely responds, “On grate bien à ma porte” (Someone is definitely scratching at my door).

Finally, the visitor confesses that he is the Big Bad Wolf, but alas, the grandma misunderstands yet again, and responds, “Moi qui avait peur que ça soit le Grand Méchant Loup!” (What a relief, I thought it was the Big Bad Wolf). She shouts out instructions for how to get into her house, but only nonsensical phrases emerge from her mouth, since she is also losing her memory: “Vire la bicyclette, et la trottinette fumera” (Fire the bike and the scooter will smoke) and “Trie la ciboulette et la crépinette cuira” (Sort the chives and the sausage will cook). Finally, the wolf storms angrily away, and the Little Red Riding Hood arrives and enters her grandma’s house safe and sound.



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