The Little Red Hen

Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
The Little Red Hen Book Poster Image
Another Pinkney classic worth clucking about.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Positive Messages

The moral: those who work, reap the benefits. The helpful miller in the story is African American, and actually a self-portrait of the illustrator.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a classical re-telling of the Little Red Hen fable, with nothing changed and nothing added -- except gorgeous illustrations. The ending has not been softened, as in some renditions.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byLongbeard November 8, 2019


Adult Written bySteve Heinlein June 23, 2018
Kid, 12 years old March 10, 2011
i think this book is really good!

What's the story?

After the little red hen finds some wheat seeds, she tries to get the other farm animals to help her plant the seeds, harvest the wheat, and bake the bread. None cooperate, and she teaches them a lesson in the end.

Is it any good?

For generations, kids have enjoyed participating in this fable, with its fun repetition, and the same should be true in this LITTLE RED HEN by Jerry Pinkney. Illustrations are classical Pinkney, and his realistic, sensitive watercolors are large on the page. The round pig is mud-streaked sloth itself, the goat is a wiry whiner, and the rat lurks in beady-eyed mischief. As a fun touch, Pinkney adds a self-portrait as the kind-hearted miller.

All of the animals are colorful, delicately drawn, and so expressive. Even their eyes change from the time they gather around the hen, each pleading his case, to the moment they turn away, shirking any responsibility. With art like this to his name, it's no surprise that Jerry Pinkney has won five Caldecott Medals, five Coretta Scott King Awards, and three New York Times Ten Best Illustrated Awards, among many other honors.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the phrase "not I," or rather shout it at the appropriate times in this fun read-aloud story. Why do you think the other animals say this to the Little Red Hen instead of helping out? Do you think the Little Red Hen should have shared in the end, even though no one helped her? You may enjoy trying different endings and seeing which one fits you best. This might lead to discussion of cooperation and whether working together is helpful. When do you like help? What do you do when no one will give you a hand? When do you think you should help?

Book details

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