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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Fox and the Hen (The)
by Eric Battut
Age Range: Under_5
One morning Henrietta Hen lays her very first egg. “I wonder what this is?” she says to herself. Henrietta then rather naively swaps her beautiful egg for a juicy worm from the crafty Red Fox. When her friends find out what she has done they are dismayed and tell Henrietta that her egg is the most precious thing in the world. She feels very sad but is reassured that they will help her to get it back. Each animal gives Henrietta a tasty inducement to try and persuade Red Fox to swap back the egg. This ranges from seeds from Rabbit’s garden, beautiful white feathers from Goose, wool from Sheep and so on. All to no avail, until the animals hit on the perfect solution!
The simplicity of Eric Battut’s text records the animals’ attempts at bartering as they try to get Henrietta’s egg back for her and the hungry fox’s sinister but humorous refusal each time. The expressive full-page illustrations, in vibrant rustic tints of terracotta and orange with the animals outlined in bold, black lines and dabs of white are delightful. The farm background changes for each of the different animals’ visit to Red Fox and yet appears much the same, giving children a chance to spot the differences.
Battut is a well-known author and illustrator in France and The Fox and the Hen is a welcome addition to the UK. An engaging picture book that young children will enjoy.