Little Red stands up to peer pressure

Local authors write book based on growing up in Opa-locka

Carla St.Louis | 3/27/2014, 9 a.m.

A metropolitan spin on the classic childhood tale of "Little Red Riding Hood," "Little Red in the Hood " takes readers on a journey in the city of Southhood with Little Red.

But who exactly is Little Red? She's an adorable, mahogany-colored little girl who has two massive Afro puffs. And unlike other children her age, she can effortlessly dodge peer pressure from neighborhood teens while on her way to dance practice.

Her actual name is Rene, but her love for the color red, seen in red bows that adorn her head, ushered in a name change.

Written by Myron L. and Kristina R. Johnson, the book was inspired by their childhood in Opa-locka in Miami-Dade County were they faced similar challenges like Little Red.

"Little Red in the Hood " primes children on how to overcome peer pressure while expressing God's love to everyone.

While "Little Red Riding Hood" was stalked by a big bad wolf, our heroine has another villian--peer pressure.

Instead, she confronts everyday temptations of youth like stealing and drugs with the ease of a veteran, relying on Biblical teachings to create quick, sharp zingers.

For example, a gang of teenage slackers dubbed Pookie N Them, try their hardest to persuade her to try drugs saying it "will make her feel good," only to be met with Little Red saying, "I already feel on top of the world with Jesus."

Little Red's life is similar to every Black girls' life: She gets motherly advice from her mom, she loves to dance and sings gospel lyrics. Unlike other young girls her age, she's already faced a loss in the form of her father, but weathers through it with her mother's wise words, "God is with them all the time."

Throughout her journey, Little Red encounters a bevy of characters including school pals Lisa, Keisha and Moesha, a posse of shoplifting girls who try to persuade her to steal bubble gum with them at the corner store.

The perennial cheery young girl turns them down and invites them to her church where everyone is welcome.

Little Red's world like many Black Americans is marked with Christian references, made evident in her rebuttals, faith in God and her regular open-invitations to visit her church. She even sings classic gospel lyrics like, "Yes, Jesus loves me, for the bible tells me so..." while walking around her neighborhood.

It's all-knowing remarks like this that separate "Little Red in the Hood" from other children stories.