The Little Red Hen

Mary Finch, Author, Kate Slater, Illustrator
Mary Finch, illus. by Kate Slater. Barefoot, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-84686-751-4
Paperback - 32 pages - 978-1-78285-041-0
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Originally published in 1999 as The Little Red Hen and the Ear of Wheat, this retelling returns with innovative new art by Slater (ABC London). Finch’s (The Three Billy Goats Gruff) storytelling is concise and straightforward, with the hen’s disobliging companions—in this version a rooster and a mouse—repeatedly refusing her requests for help. Slater created her carefully composed illustrations by hanging collaged and paper-cut elements from wires and photographing them; the resulting scenes are striking, with a real sense of depth and dimensionality. Slater also adds visual humor to the story, giving the mischief-making rooster and mouse abundant energy: the mouse makes a mess of the kitchen by frolicking in a bag of flour, and the rooster briefly wears a cooking pot on his head. After the two animals are denied a chance to partake of the finished loaf of bread, they decide to help out during a subsequent round of baking, giving the story a “second chances” aspect. A bread recipe is included, and actress Debra Messing reads the story on an accompanying CD. Ages 3–7. (Oct.)
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