From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 3—This Yiddish-inflected retelling of "The Little Ren Hen" features a balabusta
(good homemaker) who kvetches about her lazy no-goodnik friends who will not help her make matzah from wheat. When they show up at the Passover Seder, the hen scolds, "What chutzpah!" Ultimately, however, they repent and the hen forgives them because she is a mensch. All ends happily as they make up for their earlier bad behavior by doing the dishes. The droll ink, watercolor, and pastel cartoon illustrations have a friendly charm that makes a nice contrast with the story's wry humor. The Yiddish vocabulary and speech patterns will have Jewish adults rolling in the aisles, and children will enjoy the merging of familiar Passover and folktale elements. It's entertaining to those in the know, but readers unfamiliar with the holiday may be mystified by the humor, and they will gain little understanding of the traditions of Passover. An endnote on the holiday's history, a matzah recipe, and a glossary round out the package, but the book should be used in combination with more traditional tales or with audiences who already observe Passover. It's a must for Judaica collections and a solid choice for large general collections.—Heidi Estrin, Feldman Children's Library at Congregation B'nai Israel, Boca Raton, FL
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The Little Red Hen has gone through various versions and permutations, but surely this is the first time she has a Yiddish accent. Realizing it’s almost Passover, the Little Red Hen says, “Oy gevalt!” She needs matzah for her seder dinner, and that means growing wheat. Horse, Sheep, and Dog are not interested in helping. Harvesting? Again, nope. Milling? “We’re resting.” By now, the Little Red Hen realizes she’s dealing with a bunch of no-goodniks. She bakes the matzah (“according to Jewish law . . . in just eighteen minutes”) and then sets her seder table. Guess who arrives? “What chutzpah!” But then the Little Red Hen remembers the Haggadah’s words: “Let all who are hungry come and eat.” Children familiar with Passover will get a kick out of this, and the ink-and-watercolor art amusingly captures both the Little Red Hen’s aggravation and the animals’ turnaround. Those really in the know might wonder about a sheep at a holiday table where lamb’s blood plays a major role, but, hey, at least none of the guests are pigs. Preschool-Grade 1. --Ilene Cooper