cover image Red Hen and Sly Fox

Red Hen and Sly Fox

Vivian French. Simon & Schuster, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-689-80010-8

Prey outwits predator in this rustic fable. French (Caterpillar, Caterpillar; It's a Go to the Park Day) keeps to the time-honored plot: Sly Fox, hungry for chicken soup, captures Red Hen in a sack and carries her toward his den. But Red Hen is a talented seamstress, and after the fox stops to nap, she uses the sewing kit tucked in her apron to scissor her way free. She places a rock in the bag, sews it shut and escapes; and Sly Fox discovers her handiwork only when the boulder splashes into his kettle of boiling water. As painted by Hobson (Three Bags Full; Chicken Little), Red Hen is a plump morsel, with feathers the hearty hue of tomato soup; slender Sly Fox can't be blamed for working up an appetite. The illustrator creates a cozy, down-home mood with chunky shapes, wide brushstrokes and warm tones; her horizons curve a la kindergarten artists. Despite one or two miscues (French states that Sly Fox carries Red Hen ``in a sack on his back'' but Hobson shows the sack in the fox's mouth), this energetic book is as fresh as it is classic. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)