Byron Barton is the creator of many picture books for young children, including My Car, Building a House, and Little Red Hen.
As he did in The Three Bears , Barton here skillfully pares down a well-known tale for the youngest readers and listeners. Vibrant hues abound in his full-page, collage-like illustrations, which show the industrious little red hen and her three cooperative chicks planting seeds; harvesting, threshing and grinding wheat; and baking bread--while a carefree pig, duck and cat cavort merrily, repeatedly refusing to lend a hand. Of course, their one and only offer to help is turned down, and as the three hapless animals peer through the hen's kitchen window, she serves the warm loaf to her open-mouthed offspring. Creatively balancing simple sentences and vivid images, Barton wraps up this wise mother's timeless message into a neat package. Ages 3-6. (May)
PreS-- Barton just gets better and better. Bright, primitive illustrations tell the favorite old story with striking simplicity; the red and yellow of the hen and her three chicks stand out against the intense colors of the backgrounds. Double-page spreads in bright green show the lazy friends boating, playing on swings, flying a kite, and sleeping, while the hen performs her chores on a series of rainbow-colored pages. The text has been effectively pared down to its bare essentials, and would be excellent to use in toddler story times. Of course, the tale is available in many versions, perhaps the best being those by Paul Galdone (Clarion, 1979) and Margot Zemach (Farrar, 1983), but there is definitely room for this one on the shelf.-- Judy Constantinides, East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library , LA