Parent’s Choice Honor Award
Pick of the Lists, American Booksellers Association
One of the Three Little Pigs is hosting a housewarming, and Peter Rabbit would love to go. But he’s in bed with a cold after a narrow escape from Mr. McGregor’s garden. Meanwhile, Goldilocks is planning her birthday party and hoping her new friend Baby Bear can come (he’s forgiven her for breaking his favorite chair). But with the Big Bad Wolf on the prowl and Little Red Riding Hood heading off to grandmother’s house, there’s no telling how things may end!
This lively collection of letters written by famous storybook characters takes us behind the scenes in the land of make-believe.
Little could I have imagined that a playful act to keep me awake one evening while driving home would result in the creation of a whole new world, the world of “Hidden Forest”. Of course, it took the genius of Leslie Tryon to make it true. I’m frequently asked how I came up with the idea for Peter Rabbit. It happened without planning. Driving home, afraid to fall sleep while driving after a long day of classes, I would dictate into my tape recorder, notes to myself and to my students. Once, just for fun I started talking with the voices of pigs and wolves. Many months later, when I accidentally discovered the recording, I realized there was a book to be written.
I will always be thankful to Jonathan Lohnman for beginning the collaboration with Leslie Tryon. Dear Peter Rabbit has been followed by Yours Truly, Goldilocks, in Spanish Atentamente, Ricitos de Oro; With Love, Little Red Hen, and Extra! Extra! Fairy-tale News from Hidden Forest, in Spanish ¡Extra! ¡Extra! Noticias del Bosque Escondido.
What a marvelous adventure it has been to create this Hidden Forest world! And what a welcomed surprise that this book has been published in Korea, translated to the Korean language.
Reminiscent of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s hugely successful The Jolly Postman, this clever picture book creates a fictitious flurry of correspondence between such familiar characters as Goldilocks (here given the surname McGregor, with a wink and a nod to Beatrix Potter), the Three Pigs, Baby Bear, Red Riding Hood and Peter Rabbit. As the plot thickens (will Goldilocks make a return visit to the Bears’ house? Will Peter Rabbit be well enough to attend the Three Pigs’ housewarming party?), Ada inventively weaves together the criss-crossing letters, neatly tying up the loose ends with a finale wherein the entire assembly (except for the now-tailless wolf) shows up for Goldilocks’s birthday party. Ada clearly had fun extrapolating the characters’ private lives, and her sunny treatment finds ready companionship in Tryon’s delicately colored, lovingly detailed pen-and-ink and watercolor art. A Spanish edition, Querido Pedrin, is being issued simultaneously. Ages 5–8.
School Library Journal
Pre-School–Grade 3: A series of lively letters penned by beloved storybook characters tells an entertaining and imaginative tale. As the Big Bad Wolf lurks just out of sight, Pig One writes to Peter Rabbit, inviting him to a housewarming party at his newly built straw house. Meanwhile, Baby Bear sends Goldilocks a note asking her to visit, admonishing her to “knock on the door first before you come in.” In reply, Goldilocks McGregor writes about vegetables missing from the garden and the “tiny jacket” and “tiniest pair of shoes” found by her father. Peter sends his regrets to Pig One; he caught cold while hiding from Mr. McGregor in a “half-full” watering can. Not to worry, due to uncontrollable circumstances the party will take place at Stick House at a later date. The chatty correspondence continues, culminating in a birthday party that brings the characters face to face. Carefully weaving together the lives of these literary favorites into a seamless plot, Ada uses familiar elements to create a convincing and intriguing make-believe world. In addition to being fun to read, the letters move events along quickly and create a unique voice for each author. Tyron’s inviting illustrations, rendered in pen and ink with watercolors, add both detail and dimension. Whether author or recipient is depicted, the pictures include and expand on the contents of each letter. Drawings of Peter Rabbit and Mr. McGregor are appropriately reminiscent of Beatrix Potter’s originals. Children will be enchanted by this opportunity to meet familiar faces in new settings. –Joy Fleishhacker, New York Public Library
Ages 3–6: Ada uses an amusing conceit to add to children’s knowledge of the fairy-tale world. The text is a series of letters between such favorites as Peter Rabbit, Goldilocks, and one of the three little pigs, and there’s even a hasty note from one big bad wolf to another. The letters loosely constitute a story, but it is the cozy feeling of seeing inside these characters’ lives that is the book’s real selling point. Tryon’s ink-and-watercolor illustrations are a delightful complement to the letters, fresh and filled with the detail that brings a reader back for a second and third look. Especially amusing is the two-page spread featuring the letter from the three little pigs’ wolf to Red Riding Hood’s wolf, which reads in part: “Perhaps we would do well to change our diet. It is not a pleasant prospect, but it may be in our interests to avoid both young girls and pigs from now on.” The picture shows a glum wolf having a replacement tail sewn on after the pigs have chopped off the original and used it for soup. Ilene Cooper.
The events in four familiar tales are cleverly intertwined and reported in a dozen letters. “Pig One” invites Peter Rabbit to a housewarming, but he can’t go because he’s in bed sipping camomille; Baby Bear wants his new friend Goldilocks McGregor to visit; Pigs One and Two report that they’re now safely with Pig Three; Peter gets an unexpected invitation from Goldilocks and compliments the three pigs on the wolf’s-tail soup served at the housewarming they finally managed to celebrate; the wolf orders a new tail and swears off pigs and little girls. Red Riding Hood wraps up events in a letter to her grandmother, while Tryon (Albert’s Alphabet, 1991, ALA Notable) visualizes them in an inviting fairy-tale world, gently recalling both Gustave Dore‚ and Beatrix Potter with entrancing, delicately colored crosshatched detail. In addition to more obvious uses, try a dramatic reading of these pleasingly childlike letters. Also available in Spanish (ISBN: 0–689-31915–0). (Picture book. 5–9) — © 1994, Kirkus Associates, LP.
School Library Journal
“Made up entirely of letters, this delightful book brings Peter Rabbit, the Three Little Pigs, Little Red Riding Hood and the Three Bears together in one volume. In the opening letter, a little pig invites Peter rabbit to a party at the new house made of straw. Peter declines as he is in bed with a cold caught while hiding in Mr. McGregor’s water pail. Gentle watercolor illustrations complement the text nicely. Children could listen to a few of the letters and then be asked to compose one themselves.” (School Library Journal. November 1994)
“Alma Flor Ada, a prolific author of bilingually published children’s books, makes a whimsical and original contribution with Dear Peter Rabbit, simultaneously released in a carefully translated Spanish edition as Querido Pedrín, both illustrated by Leslie Tryon. Written as a series of letters between storybook characters Peter rabbit, the Three Pigs and Goldilocks and her new friend Baby Bear it weaves these and other characters together in serendipitous ways until they all converge at a birthday party for Goldilocks.” (–Marc Hall, San Francisco Chronicle, 1994)
“First and foremost, engage children in reading their own writing/letters and the work of their peers. As well as providing students with a relevant genre in which to learn more about text structure, letter writing is very motivating for kids. Additionally, letters provide us with a relevant vehicle to teach students conventions and help them care about being mindful of conventions in their own writing.” Read more »
If you have enjoyed reading or sharing this book, I would very much like to hear from you. Please click here to send your comments.