The Little Red Hen: An Old Fable


Heather Forest and Susan Gaber join forces to breathe new life into a classic story. Who will help the hen bake her cake? You may think you know, but Heather Forest and Susan Gaber have a slightly different take on this communal, culinary creation.

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Heather Forest and Susan Gaber join forces to breathe new life into a classic story. Who will help the hen bake her cake? You may think you know, but Heather Forest and Susan Gaber have a slightly different take on this communal, culinary creation.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
The classic tale of the hardworking hen and her not-so-helpful friends has been retold many times, most recently by Jerry Pinkney. For her rhymed version, Forest has a dog, a cat, and a mouse who live in the hen's house as the characters who refuse to help her. For each chore she asks for help in a repeated rhyme and is answered with the same, "Not I." The end of the story here, however, is not the usual one, for the hen agrees to share her delicious looking cake with those who agree to help in the future, because "working together makes working fun." And so they do all help in the work, and eat, making this a fable with a stronger message than the usual one. Gaber's hen is a proud fowl with a brilliant red comb, quite capable of getting the assorted tasks done. Her friends are young, visually appealing, much more interested in play than work, although the mouse is an avid reader. The naturalistic illustrations add visual interest, appearing in a variety of formats from small vignettes to full and double-page scenes appropriate to the text.
Children's Literature - Sheilah Egan
This retelling is perfectly suited for reading out loud and will serve as an inspiration to help children act out the "parts" of the story. Already well known as a storyteller and a performer of stories with musical accompaniment and other sound effects, Forest has used a cat, a dog and a mouse as the creatures who fail to help the little red hen in her efforts to plant the "golden wheat seeds" so they can eat cake. Some versions have the hen baking bread but this one concludes with a wonderfully iced cake. The bold illustrations are a combination of realistic "portraits" of the hen's three lazy little friends and the stylized piles of grain ready to be milled into flour. The close-ups of the hen's face as she harvests the wheat are fabulous and give insight into the difficulties of her task. Her expressions are simply priceless all throughout the book. Humorous touches abound in the art—in one spread we see the mouse "reading" a book full of pictures of mice identified in different languages. After the usual denials, "NOT I said the, dog, mouse" the hen tells her friends that cake is for those "who help when there is work to do...For after all is said and done, working together makes working fun." Then we see the hen with her little "helpers" growing another wheat crop, sometimes helpful sometimes not. The communal cake baking scene is a hoot, bearing no resemblance to the sight when the hen worked tidily alone. In the end they all enjoy cake together. Perfect for emergent readers to join in reading the repetitions and to predict what "comes next" in the process of turning grains of wheat into a cake.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-In this rhyming version of the workhorse story, a black-and-white kitten, corgi pup, and shiny-eyed mouse are the reluctant friends of Little Red Hen, who seems to wink conspiratorially at readers, as if to say, "Here we go again!" While cat is distracted by a yarn ball, dog wrestles with a blue blanket, and mouse surveys a sort of scrapbook of mice of many lands (complete with tags in German, Korean, Hebrew, and French, among other languages), Hen goes about her business, planting, cutting, grinding, and baking all by herself. But here, unlike most accounts, there's a twist: the lazy animals learn their lesson and are given a chance to redeem themselves: "For after all is said and done, working together makes working fun." The rhyme scheme's a bit bumpy at times and will require skilled reading aloud, but Gaber's bold acrylic artwork and varied use of space-from full-bleed paintings to small, egg-shaped cameo vignettes-and the infectious, familiar refrain of "Not I," and, in this telling, "My, my-" make this an appealing storytime and readers'-theater selection.-Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Most rhyming retellings of traditional stories miss the mark and lose the original charm, but not in this case. Forest and Gaber's third collaboration bakes up a culinary concoction of cake (in place of bread) that is fresh, folksy and fun. Coincidentally, this is the second version published in 2006, the other one by Jerry Pinkney. As with all renditions, the animals vary. Gaber gives personality to the dog, a Corgi carrying a blue blanket, a black-and-white cat that plays with a string of yarn and a mouse who's always reading a book about mice in different languages. Her folk-art images cleverly use ovoid shapes as a motif throughout (portrait insets of the animals, for instance) and imaginatively depict how the hen carries out each step, e.g., she uses her beak to cut the wheat and to hold a wooden spoon to stir the batter. Forest's rhymes are a little more casual than Pinkney's. Refined or rustic? Libraries will want both. Who will help read and enjoy this story? Everyone. (Picture book/folktale. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874837957
  • Publisher: August House Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/25/2006
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,449,748
  • Age range: 5 - 8 Years
  • Lexile: AD620L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.93 (w) x 11.39 (h) x 0.34 (d)

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2012

    Highly Recommend

    Beautiful illustrations. Great rhyming text. My 3 year old loves it.

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