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Monday, April 25, 2016

Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks, written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez, with illustrations by Dan Santat. G.P. Putnam's Sons, Penguin. 2016. $23.99 ages 5 and up

"They shuddered and
groped in the darkness.
"We're lost!" whispered
Hensel with dread.

They weaved and they wound,
and kept roaming around
until they saw light up ahead.

It came from a cottage  ... "

It's the third fractured fairy tale from this team, and it is sure to please fans of the previous two. Following up on The Three Ninja Pigs and Ninja Red Riding Hood, the authors apply their rhyming skills to another martial arts story meant to amuse and engage young readers.

It is a 'menacing' time for the chicks. The signs around town are evidence. The Wolf has settled to a more sedate life and is offering yoga classes, while the 3 Pigs dojo suggests  "Get empowered, not devoured".  The fox that nabbed their mama is still on the loose. Dojo lessons learned, the chicks are astounded to return home to chaos in the coop and find that their father missing. They use their best tracking skills to follow all leads, dropping crumbs as they go. As you might have guessed, when they find themselves alone in the dark without further clues, they also notice that their markers are missing!

Determined to forge forward, they wend their way through the forest until they are attracted to a cornbread cottage that brings light to their darkness. Tricked by the wily fox to enter his home, Hensel soon acknowledges her mistake and is captured and penned up - with her father just as her mother is chosen to be the fox's next meal! Now, it's Gretel's turn to take charge. The chimney offers a surprise entry point and a chance to save Mama. A struggle ensues.

In the meantime, Hensel's preparedness allows freedom for the other members of the family, and a place of confinement for the beleaguered fox. Two fine new defenders of the weak are born!

"From then on they made it their mission
to rescue, protect and defend.
They'd work night and day
to liberate prey
till bird-napping came to an end."

And so, as they say ... they all lived happily ever after!

So much fun, and made even better with Dan Santat's exceptional artwork, done with Sumi brush work on rice paper and completed in Adobe Photoshop. I love the facial expressions, the varied angles and the constant motion. Kids will love them, too.

Don't forget to celebrate National Poetry Month with a poem for every day!

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