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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Red Hen, by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley. Roaring Brook, H B Fenn. 2010. $19.50 ages 3 and up

"The cake came out of the
oven golden and sweet.
"Who will help me ice the cake?"
she asked.
"Not I," said the cat.
"Not I," said the rat.
"Bribbit," said the frog.
"All right then," she sighed.
"I will do it myself."
And she did."

I have been waiting for this delicious book since I first read its predecessor, Chicken Little (Roaring Brook, 2009). It is a familiar tale; but, it is the artistic interpretation that makes it outstanding.

The red hen is a red seal chef at, when she finds a recipe for Simply Splendid Cake, there is nothing to do but get to work. As in other familiar tellings of this tale she goes to her friends (this time, a cat, a rat and a frog) for help. They have no intention of being the baker's helpers and with each plea, they are resolute in their refusal.

The red hen gathers all necessary ingredients and sets about making the best of the situation, creating a cake that is a culinary delight.  Of course everyone is keen to share the fruits of her labor; but, as is to be expected, she reasons that she should do the eating herself...just as she has done everything else.

Familiar? Absolutely! But, that is where the similarities end. For, when you catch your first glimpse of the bold, bright and frenetic artwork, you will be transported to another place entirely. The brilliant collage creations will have kids squirming in their seats to try their hand at designing their own creatures. The detail filled double-page spreads, abound with action and the mischievous interference of her four chicks while the so-called friends laze languorously in the midst of the cake-baking busyness.

And, if that isn't enough enjoyment, there follows a recipe for said cake, with ingredients listed and directions given. Perhaps you can find some willing assistants to help you bake your own Simply Splendid Cake. I can only hope you learned a lesson about sharing it!

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