With Love, Little Red Hen

With Love, LIttle Red Hen

With Love, Little Red Hen

Illustrated by LESLIE TRYON

Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001.

Hardbound, 32 pp. $16.00

ISBN: 0-689-82581-1

Reading level: Ages 4-8


Hidden Forest has a new resident. Little Red Hen and her seven little chicks have moved into a cottage and plan to grow a bountiful crop of corn in the nearby field. The problem is that none of the Red Hen's neighbors are willing to help with the hard work. "Not I," says the dog, the goose, and the lazy cat. So Goldilocks, who has heard about the new arrivals from her friend Little Red Riding Hood, comes up with a neighborly idea: Why don't all the residents of Hidden Forest chip in and work on the garden? Better yet, why not make it a surprise? Of course there are a couple of residents who might not be so cooperative. Will Wolfy Lupus and his cousin Fer O'Cious hatch a new plot of their own?

Following the highly acclaimed Dear Peter Rabbit and Yours Truly, Goldilocks, Alma Flor Ada and Leslie Tryon offer young readers another peek into the world of their favorite storybook characters, revealed through the charming letters they write to one another.



Ages 5-8. Like Dear Peter Rabbit (1994) and Yours Truly, Goldilocks (1998), this addition to an imaginative series once again comprises letters between beloved storybook characters. Correspondence here describes the Little Red Hen's arrival in the Hidden Forest, an enchanted place where a number of familiar storybook characters reside. Ada does a great job entwining the lives of previously unrelated characters into one intriguing story. Tryon's realistic, highly detailed watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations are equally appealing, especially the splendid double-page spread depicting the celebratory party Little Red Hen throws for the friends who helped her plow and plant the field. It's not essential for youngsters to be familiar with the previous books or with the stories on which the letters are based, but having background will certainly add to enjoyment.

Publishers Weekly:

Alma Flor Ada returns to the Hidden Forest a third time for With Love, Little Red Hen, illus. by Leslie Tryon, once again relaying her tale through correspondence from storybook characters. Little Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and others surprise the industrious but stressed-out Ms. Hen by secretly cultivating her corn, while two wolves plot to kidnap her for a chicken dinner.

School Library Journal:

K-Gr 3– In this engaging sequel to Ada’s Dear Peter Rabbit (1994) and Yours Truly, Goldilocks (1998, both Atheneum), the Little Red Hen and her chicks move into the Happy Valley section of the Hidden Forest. The hen’s request for help from her lazy neighbors is met with the familiar chorus, “Not I.” She writes of her new surroundings and adventures in letters to her friend Hetty Henny. Little does she know that she is the topic of conversation in letters between Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks, who secretly decide to give her a hand. But not all is happy in Happy Valley with Wolfy Lupus and Fer O’Cious trying to make meals out of their neighbors. Hetty has a close call, but her scissors, needle, and thread provide her with a way out of trouble. Finally, when the Little Red Hen throws a party for her neighbors, the bad guys lose their opportunity to make a chicken dinner and slink off in shame and disappointment. Tryon’s charming pen-and-ink with watercolor illustrations depict a bucolic paradise with neighbors who look out for one another. Team the three Hidden Forest books with Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s The Jolly Postman (Little, Brown, 1986) and Each Peach Pear Plum (Viking, 1979) for a fun look at nursery rhymes and at letter writing. Bina Williams, Bridgeport Public Library, CT.

Horn Book:

Primary) In this third collection of letters penned by the storybook residents of Hidden Forest, bad guys Wolfy Lupus and Fer O'Cious are back, and up to the same old lupine tricks. Having sworn off rabbits and pigs (Dear Peter Rabbit and Yours Truly, Goldilocks), they now turn their attention to poultry-namely, cousins Little Red Hen and Hetty Hen. The format is the same as the first two books: each double-page spread comprises a personal letter on one page and an animated pen-and-ink and watercolor illustration on the other. The letters back and forth between the characters serve as the book's text, revealing the action and sketching the familiar correspondents' personalities. The artwork often shows scenes that happen offstage, extending the content of the letters and providing more dramatic impact. Newcomer Ms. Red writes to Hetty about her unhelpful new neighbors, the hard work of clearing her land and planting her corn, and, later in the summer, the mysterious work being done in the cornfield. Readers know that Goldilocks and Little Red Riding Hood have secretly organized a group of Hidden Forest dwellers to help Ms. Red with her crops. Meanwhile, the scheming wolf cousins are planning a surprise. But as expected, the wolves are thwarted, and a festive harvest party, depicted in a wordless double-page illustration, goes off without a hitch. In addition to being a creative letter-writing lesson, this latest entry in the good-natured series offers elementary-age readers a chance to spend some time with old friends.

Review by Kirkus Book Review:

Lovers of fractured fairy tales will be amused by this further peek into the personal letters of familiar characters by the team that started it all with Dear Peter Rabbit (1994). Ms. Red Hen has just moved to Happy Valley with her brood of chicks, but her neighbors are proving to be less than neighborly. While she slaves away in her cornfield, Little Red Riding Hood and Goldilocks band together with the Three Pigs and Peter Rabbit to lend her a hand. Meanwhile, fed up with the trouble of trying to eat rabbits and pigs, the forest carnivores have devious plans of their own. With the help of the amateur spy Lazy Feline, Wolfy Lupus, and Fer O'Cious let the family get plump and fat on the corn. But Wolfy just can't wait to feast and decides to prey on Hetty Hen-with disastrous results. When all is said and done, chicken is added to the list of foresworn foods for the unfortunate carnivores. The aptly named characters and addresses will delight language lovers-Turkey Lurkey, M.D., lives on Ailments Road and the "temporary" addresses of Pig One and Pig Two are listed in the Hidden Forest Directory. Readers will enjoy recalling the details of each individual character's fairy tale from the cleverly embedded "facts" Ada sprinkles throughout the letters. While this is a great introduction to letter-writing, young readers may have trouble with this format, and will need to be kept aware of the writer and recipient of each letter. Known for both the two previous titles in this series and the Albert series of books, Tryon's detailed illustrations fit the letters perfectly, and close observers will discover something new with each reading. (Picture book. 5-8)

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