cover image Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks

Hensel and Gretel: Ninja Chicks

Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, illus. by Dan Santat. Putnam, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-399-17626-5

Gomez (What About Moose?) joins the team behind The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood for a fractured fairy tale that delivers more satisfying martial arts mayhem. There’s a moment of reflection as chickens Hensel and Gretel stand before the 3 Pigs Dojo (“Get empowered, not devoured”), but from then on it’s all action as they find their parents have been chicken-napped, bushwhack through the forest, and arrive at a fox’s cottage, made from cornbread. Inside, they find their parents and realize their peril: “ ‘Watch out!’ Papa cried./ ‘You’ll be chicken-pot-pied!’ ” Feathers fly and teeth are bared as the chickens square off against the fox, hurling kitchenware and delivering blows until their parents are freed: “You two Ninja Chicks/ got us out of that fix,/ and justice—not dinner—was served.” Santat serves up an unstoppable barrage of exaggerated angles, action lines, and pop-eyed facial expressions to accompany Schwartz and Gomez’s sturdy limerick-metered verse. It’s almost possible to hear the clang as the wok clocks the fox. Ages 4–8. Authors’ agent: Kendra Marcus, Bookstop Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. (May)