The Red Hen

Ed Emberley and Rebecca Emberley, Roaring Brook/Porter, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-59643-492-9
As they did in Chicken Little (2009), the Emberleys present a stylish take on a well-known fable. Shapes and colors collide playfully in hyperbolic collages—the animals' crazed, mismatched eyes alone should elicit giggles. Finding a recipe for "simply splendid cake," the hen thinks, "This would be a treat for all of us." The story unravels simply and traditionally, with the baker seeking help from the lazy lookers-on—a cat, rat, and frog. Still, the Emberleys inject humor of their own into the retelling: while the cat and rat answer with the expected "Not I," the spotted amphibian offers a "Bribbit" each time. The visual pièce de résistance is the finished confection, festively decorated (by guess who) with flowers, stars, and garlands of frosting. Along the way, the Emberleys hint at the hen's growing irritation ("She pretty much knew what was coming..."), which culminates in her eating the cake with help from her perky black chicks. A cake recipe caps off this capricious rendition—wise readers will remember the story well if mom and dad ask for help baking. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/04/2010
Release date: 10/01/2010
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