The Little Red Hen
Jerry Pinkney, . . Dial, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8037-2935-3
Caldecott Honor artist Pinkney puts a sprightly spin on this classic tale with resplendent artwork that comically conveys the title character's energy—and her barnyard colleagues' sloth. The little red hen bids a cheerful "Good morning!" to a smiling sun in the luminous opening spread, in which even the garden flowers and fence slats have faces. Kids will gleefully chime in as the lazy animals, rendered realistically at close range, reiterate the familiar "Not I" response to the hen's repeated requests for help. Adding further verve to the spreads, each animal's name appears in a hue that corresponds to its feathers, fur or hide. The fiery heroine pointedly attempts to draft the critters' help by pointing out its defining characteristics (while attempting to draft the dog's aid in planting the seeds, she says, "Surely you will [help].... You are so fond of digging"), making their refusal the more biting. With feathers a-flutter, a determined countenance and straw bonnet tied under her chin, the little red hen cuts quite an appealing figure as she tackles her tasks surrounded by her adorable, fuzzy chicks. She dons a stylish shawl as she sets off—solo—to the mill, where smiling Mr. Miller grounds her grain into flour and presents her with a jar of berry jam. Capturing the contentment of the moment when the little red hen and her brood share the fruits of her labors, the tale's final words are "Oh joy of joys!"—bread and book alike. Ages 4-up.
Reviewed on: 06/05/2006