Perfect Picture Book Fridays are the creation of the lovely children’s book author Susanna Leonard Hill. Check in each week on Fridays for new book reviews. Susanna also has a complete list (alphabetically and by theme) of all the book reviews. It’s a wonderful resource if you’re looking for activities for a book, or books focused on a particular theme.
Author: Ann Whitford Paul
Illustrator: Ethan Long
Publisher: Holiday House
Genre: Fiction picture book
Themes: Working together; friendship; fairy tales & fables
On Monday, lunes, Iguana twitched her tail happily.
“Let’s celebrate spring with a party on Saturday.”
Conejo hopped up and down. “Yes! Let’s!”
Tortuga poked out of his shell.
“A fiesta? On sabado? Count me it.”
Culebra shook his rattle. “Me too!”
“Good!” said Iguana. “We must start right away. Who will help me write the invitations?”
Synopsis: (from publisher’s website) Iguana is planning a fiesta. Tortuga the tortoise, Canejo the hare, and Culebra the snake all want to come, but they don’t want to help. The lazy trio lose out in this clever update of the story of the Little Red Hen with a Mexican twist. Glossary of Spanish words.
What makes it great: This unique retelling of The Little Red Hen story, set in the desert and featuring Spanish-speaking desert animals, is at once familiar and fresh.
What readers notice: My 3-year-old really loved this story. She latched on to the Spanish words and has been calling one of her stuffed animals ‘Culebra.’ As a parent, I liked that this retelling of the story ends with the other animals helping Iguana clean up, and then sharing the leftover party food with her. To me, it’s a more satisfying ending than some retellings which simply end with the Hen character eating all the food herself.
What a writer notices: I checked this book out of the library as part of my study of WRITING PICTURE BOOKS by Ann Whitford Paul. She references quite a few picture books, including several of her own, and I was happy to find this one on the shelf.
This story is truly delightful, and I so admire how the author incorporated multiple hooks into the story. This is at once a Little Red Hen retelling with a unique setting (hook), a book about a party (hook) a book that introduces Spanish vocabulary (hook), and a days-of-the-week book (hook). Yet none of these feel forced. Instead, they all seem to be a natural part of the unfolding of the story.
Activities/Links to Resources:
A crossword puzzle from the publisher, Holiday House, with some of the Spanish words from the book:
Pre-reading, during reading, and post-reading ideas, including a bibliography of Little Red Hen retellings:
A mural project for kindergarteners: