Little Red Riding Hood, Retold and Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

Following Snow White is another tale by the Brothers Grimm, Little Red Riding Hood.  This version by Trina Schart Hyman is just beautiful. Her use of shadow and light is remarkable. There is much to look at, so much detail. Elisabeth (Little Red Riding Hood) is a sweet little character. Hyman's forest illustrations are lovely, as are the flora spilling out everywhere and all the little creatures.  The fringed buckskin jacket on the huntsman is a nice touch. The illustrations and patterns bordering the text are especially nice.

Trina's work makes me think of Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac, with her highly detailed illustrations and great use of shadow and light. (I apologize, my scans are lighter than the actual book) In researching what medium Trina worked in, I found this excerpt of an interview with Trina from Something about the Author, Volume 46.  "I do all my work on the same piece of paper, so my preliminary sketches become the finished piece of art work. First I make a pencil drawing, then I use India ink and brush followed by acrylic paint, which I dilute like watercolor and apply in thin glazes. I believe that because I work on the same piece of drawing board, the pictures are alive. My own struggle, underneath the final image, is what gives the picture its soul." Trina also stated that she might add colored pencil, lead pencil, pastels or crayola crayons. Trina also said "I can only work on one book at a time, because when I am illustrating a book (or even just the jacket illustration for a novel) I am totally immersed in the "world" of that story, and dare not let anything else intrude into the imaginary world that I've created."

Trina Schart was born April 8, 1939 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At an early age she learned to read and draw. As a child, her favorite story was Little Red Riding Hood and she tirelessly wore a red cape that her mother made. In 1959 Trina married Harris Hyman and moved to Boston. In 1960 she graduated from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She and Harris then moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where she studied at the Swedish State Art School. There she illustrated her first book, Toffe and the Little Car. In 1963 their daughter Katrin was born. After divorcing Harris in 1968,  Trina and Katrin moved to a farm in Lyme, New Hampshire. Trina was the first art director of Cricket Magazine from 1973 to 1979. She was a regular contributor  to the magazine until her death. Trina is also considered one of the first white American illustrators to regularly incorporate Black characters into her illustrations. This was due in part to her daughter's marriage to a man from Cameroon. Trina's grandchildren are in several of her books.

Trina Schart Hyman illustrated  140+ children's books over a span of more than 30 years. She was awarded four Caldecott awards. Some of the books Trina illustrated are How Six Found Christmas (1969), The Sleeping Beauty (1977), A Little Alphabet (1980), Self-Portrait: Trina Schart Hyman (1981), Little Red Riding Hood (1983), and The Enchanted Forest (1984). She is best known for her illustrations of classic folklore and fairy tales. Hyman died from breast cancer at age 65 on November 29, 2004.


  1. She illustrated a calendar of poems by John Updike. It's wonderful. The illustrations are lovely and fresh. The poems are beautifully descriptive (description--Updike's forte in my opinion) and evoke childhood memories of the seasons and holidays. I think her grandchilden might be depicted in these illustrations. The library might have the CD of Updike reading the poems. It's fun to hear him read his own work.

  2. Thanks Mary, I'll have to check that out.

  3. Question....do you know of a book from the '80s with little hippo like creatures living in an almost medieval style with coats of arms, swords, etc. No type, just pages of really detailed drawings of their minature world in all the seasons.

    Any leads would be appreciated.



  4. Bob - I'm sorry I don't. It sounds interesting though. Do you know who the illustrator or author is?

  5. Fantastic!!

    thank you so much.

    they are so wonderfull pictures.

  6. You're welcome, glad you enjoyed it.

  7. I fell deeply in love with her work in the 1980s, but the one thing that always caught my attention was her amazing way of drawing hands. If you look at them, they're expressively detailed.

    Gorgeous work. Thank you for sharing these.

  8. She was an excellent draftsman with a distinct style.

  9. I had this book as a child. I think that you could almost feel what Little Red Riding Hood must have felt as the wolf came nose-to-nose with her. Such beautiful, rich colors. Amazing illustrations! Thank you for sharing and bringing back such great memories.

  10. I... I never knew she was named Elisabeth...