Lon Po Po, which means “granny wolf” in Chinese, is the classic tale of Little Red Riding Hood with some exciting twists. In the European fairy tale by the brothers Grimm, Little Red Riding Hood walks through the dangerous forest to deliver a basket of goodies to her sick grandmother. The big bad wolf gets to the house before Little Red does, pretends to be grandma, and eats the poor girl up. A woodcutter runs in from the forest and cuts the wolf open, saving both Little Red Riding Hood and her grandmother. Never Talk to Strangers!
In this centuries old tale from China, a woman lives with not one, but three daughters: Shang, Tao, and Paotze. One day the woman goes to visit granny (Po Po) for her birthday. That night a wolf, slyly disguised as “grandma”, knocks at the door. The two youngest girls are so eager to see their “Po Po” that they let the wolf in. The wolf immediately huffs and puffs to blow out the candle so the girls can’t see his hairy face. But even in the darkness, the oldest daughter, Shang, is not easily fooled.
Shang asks, “Po Po, why is your voice so low?”
The wolf quickly answers, “I have a cold, dear child.”
When Shang feels his furry tail, the wolf claims it’s just hemp strings to weave a basket. When Shang touches his sharp claws, the wolf says that he brought an awl to make shoes for them. A Long Way Down
Shang must think of a plan in order to save her sisters and herself from the gray wolf. She insists that he try some “magic” gingko nuts that hang from the top of a tree outside the house. All three girls offer to climb the tree to get nuts for the greedy wolf. But when the children safely reach the top, they don’t come down. Then they lure the wolf into a rope basket by promising to pull him up to the nuts. When the wolf is almost to the top, they let go of the rope! The wolf crashes to the ground to his death.
Both versions of the fairy tale teach the reader a valuable lesson about the potential dangers of the world. However, in the traditional fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood appears dependent, even helpless. In this Oriental folktale, the girls help themselves! Such positive female role models are rarely seen in traditional fairy tales.
For more fairy tales with a twist, read Anklet for a Princess: A Cinderella Story from India
and Rapunzel – A Groovy Fairy Tale