The Little Girl and the Wolf (1939)

by James Thurber (1894-1961)

One afternoon a big wolf waited in a dark forest for a little girl to come along carrying a basket of food to her grandmother. Finally a little girl did come along and she was carrying a basket of food. "Are you carrying that basket to your grandmother?" asked the wolf. The little girl said yes, she was. So the wolf asked her where her grandmother lived and the little girl told him and he disappeared into the wood.

When the little girl opened the door of her grandmother's house she saw that there was somebody in bed with a nightcap and nightgown on. She had approached no nearer than twenty-five feet from the bed when she saw that it was not her grandmother but the wolf, for even in a nightcap a wolf does not look any more like your grandmother than the Metro-Goldwyn lion looks like Calvin Coolidge. So the little girl took an automatic out of her basket and shot the wolf dead.

(Moral: It is not so easy to fool little girls nowadays as it used to be.)


Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf

by Roald Dahl, from Revolting Rhymes (1982)

Click here to listen to Dahl read the story

As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma's door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, ``May I come in?''
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
``He's going to eat me up!'' she cried.

And she was absolutely right.
He ate her up in one big bite.
But Grandmamma was small and tough,
And Wolfie wailed, ``That's not enough!
I haven't yet begun to feel
That I have had a decent meal!''
He ran around the kitchen yelping,
``I've got to have a second helping!''
Then added with a frightful leer,
``I'm therefore going to wait right here
Till Little Miss Red Riding Hood
Comes home from walking in the wood.''
He quickly put on Grandma's clothes,
(Of course he hadn't eaten those).
He dressed himself in coat and hat.
He put on shoes, and after that
He even brushed and curled his hair,
Then sat himself in Grandma's chair.
In came the little girl in red.
She stopped. She stared. And then she said,

``What great big ears you have, Grandma.''
``All the better to hear you with,'' the Wolf replied.
``What great big eyes you have, Grandma.''
said Little Red Riding Hood.
``All the better to see you with,'' the Wolf replied.

He sat there watching her and smiled.
He thought, I'm going to eat this child.
Compared with her old Grandmamma
She's going to taste like caviar.

Then Little Red Riding Hood said, ``But Grandma,
what a lovely great big furry coat you have on.''

``That's wrong!'' cried Wolf. ``Have you forgot
To tell me what BIG TEETH I've got?
Ah well, no matter what you say,
I'm going to eat you anyway.''
The small girl smiles. One eyelid flickers.
She whips a pistol from her knickers.
She aims it at the creature's head
And bang bang bang, she shoots him dead.
A few weeks later, in the wood,
I came across Miss Riding Hood.
But what a change! No cloak of red,
No silly hood upon her head.
She said, ``Hello, and do please note
My lovely furry wolfskin coat.''