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.
The Little Red Hen has always been one of my favorite fairy-tale characters. Both as the hardworking gal who does not hesitate to do all the work by herself or as the resourceful hen who loves to saw and finds in her scissors, thread and needle the means to escape her captor. In both episodes she shows the best traits of the female personality. For this third book in the Hidden Forest series, following Dear Peter Rabbit or Querido Pedrín, and Yours Truly, Goldilocks or Atentamente, Ricitos de Oro, I chose to have two different hens, Little Red Hen and her cousin, Hetty Hen, carry each of the stories. I made them cousins in honor of my own, who have always been very dear to me. I chose to make Hetty Hen single, in honor of the beautiful and strong single women in my family, among my aunts and nieces. On the other hand, I made Red Hen have seven chicks. The magic number were the number of grandchildren I had at the time, to whom I dedicated the book. But they were really inspired by my own four very helpful children.
The presence of the chicks and the solidarity expressed by Little Red Riding Hood give a new flavor to the story, which ceases to be totally individualistic although continues to stress fairness.
You can read Leslie Tryon’s reflections about the creation of the Hidden Forest series in the chapter she wrote for Alma Flor Ada and You, volume II published by Libraries Unlimited in the series The Author and You.
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.
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. Lauren Peterson.
“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 »
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