The Little Red Hen
by the Golden staff with pictures by J.P. Miller/ published 1954 by Western Publishing Company
Still jazzed by the Golden posts this week over at Meet Me at Mikes... and influenced by a copy I found for a song (that incidentally will be announced next week as the Great Monday Give), I figured it was time to start hitting the Little Golden books ~ of which the boy has at least a hundred. An all-time favorite in the Golden lexicon for lots of folks, The Little Red Hen is one I remember fondly. The boy loves it because it has a chicken, a duck and a goose, and I love it because the illustrations are so timeless.
J.P. Miller was one of the best-loved illustrators of the classic Golden Book era, and I particularly dig the little touches he adds. On the final page, the single chicken feather on the floor beside the bed. The "baby photo" of an egg on the chicken's bedside table. Or in this picture, the salt shaker that has been knocked to the floor. The pictures come off as so simple and primitive, yet there are so many things going on that add life to the book beyond what is written in the story. And who doesn't love the story?
One summer day the little Red Hen found a grain of wheat. "A grain of wheat!" said the little Red Hen to herself. "I will plant it." She asked the duck: "Will you help me plant this grain of wheat?"
"Not I!" said the duck.
She asked the goose: "Will you help me plant this grain of wheat?"
"Not I!" said the goose.
Basically it goes on from there... all her lazy friends refusing to help so that she does it all by herself until, at last, she sits down to a delightful dinner of fresh baked bread... all by herself. My mother co-opted this tale a long time ago, and used it against my sisters and me whenever we were uncooperative. A little fairy take can go a long way they say.
Lucky Mrs. Ticklefeather
The Around the Year Storybook