In the familiar version of this popular folk tale, the eponymous fowl finds a grain of wheat and asks her friends to help her make it into bread. At each stage the hen’s request is met with refusal – but when the bread is ready, her lay-about friends are suddenly eager to participate. Since they wouldn’t share in the work, however, the hen refuses to let them share the reward. This Jewish version follows the same storyline, but with some clever differences: the author seamlessly weaves in information about the seder and making matzah, the hen’s friends regret their selfish behaviour, and although the hen is inclined to punish them, she recalls the words from the Haggadah -- “Let all who are hungry come and eat” -- and invites her friends to join her after all. This is a satisfying, informative Passover tale with a great message. With its humorous Yiddishisms and Paul Meisel’s appealing, Axel Scheffler-like illustrations, it’s a lot of fun too.
March 13, 2017