cover image HUNGRY HEN


Richard Waring, , illus. by Caroline Jayne Church. . HarperCollins, $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-06-623880-7

Waring's droll debut picture book introduces a hungry little hen who "ate and ate, and grew and grew, and the more she ate, the more she grew." Day after day, an equally ravenous fox sits on a hill above the henhouse, surmising that the longer he waits to sneak down the hill (presumably to devour the hen), the bigger she will be. British artist Church plays with perspective to accentuate the hen's gradual enlargement and the fox's increasingly emaciated state as its ribs grow more prominent. When the seemingly sly creature finally makes his move, predator becomes prey as the now enormous hen gobbles up the now scrawny fox in a sudden, kid-pleasing about-face. With its relatively large type size, limited vocabulary and copious repetition, this straightforward narrative is just right for those beginning to read on their own, (e.g., "And so he waited and waited and waited, and the hen grew bigger and bigger, and the fox grew hungrier and hungrier, and thinner and thinner"). Church's spare artwork matches the text in its simplicity, with her bold palette and thick black line shown off against inventively textured backgrounds created on hand-made paper. A refreshingly understated caper. Ages 3-6. (Jan.)