The Little Red Hen
Pinkney, Jerry. 2006. The Little Red Hen. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. New York: Dial Books for Young Readers.
Caldecott Award winner Jerry Pinkney’s The Little Red Hen is a delight for readers young and old. The classic tale of the industrious chicken that tries unsuccessfully to enlist her friends to help her with a task is a universal story of the benefits of hard work and the consequences of laziness. Pinkney’s graphite, ink and watercolor illustrations bring this tale to life and allow the reader to see the finely etched details of the characters and pastoral setting. This Eastern European traditional tale emphasizes the value of a strong work ethic; labor and diligence will pay off in the end. Pinkney’s hen is smart and practical, concerned for her family and clearly wanting to include the other farm animals in her task by appealing to their independent skills so all can enjoy the benefits. By contrast, the dog, rat, goat and pig would rather not be involved and the disappointment in their choice is evident in their faces as they can only watch as the hen and her chicks enjoy their bread. Pinkney, himself, can be found as the miller who assists the little red hen with grinding the grain into flour and giving her a jar of berry jam, adding a little extra sweetness to this timeless tale. The rhythm of the story lends itself to being read aloud and allows many opportunities for participation with the predictable, “not I said the …” that children will anticipate and enjoy.