Lit­tle Red Rosie

Eric A Kim­mel; Mon­i­ca Gutier­rez, illus.
  • Review
By – March 23, 2017

Here is anoth­er suc­cess­ful sto­ry by Eric Kim­mel, not­ed win­ner of the Syd­ney Tay­lor award for life­time achieve­ment. It is a play­ful ver­sion of the folk­tale, The Lit­tle Red Hen, re-told for Rosh Hashanah. Lit­tle Red Rosie involves her ani­mal friends in help­ing to pre­pare chal­lah for the neigh­bors’ hol­i­day din­ner. Each one is hap­py to assist, unlike the peers of the lit­tle red hen. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, attempts to mea­sure the flour togeth­er result in a huge flour-based mess; knead­ing the dough and shap­ing it into chal­lah, brush­ing it with egg and sprin­kling it with pop­py seeds, all end in ter­ri­ble chaos in the kitchen. The inter­ac­tions between Rosie and her bird helpers are love­ly, and the biggest suc­cess is when the three animals—toucan, par­rot, and hornbill—all sit on the dough to warm it as though it is an egg in the nest wait­ing to hatch! As the chal­lah is bak­ing to a gold­en brown, the neigh­bors start to arrive. Rosie has set the table with apples, hon­ey, a pome­gran­ate, and the fin­ished chal­lah, in addi­tion to a dec­o­ra­tive sho­far, kid­dush cup, and two candles.

As the room fills, Rosie sug­gests that all the neigh­bors and her helpers hold hands as she recites the bless­ing on the chal­lah, to which every­one answers Amen”, and the ani­mals are con­grat­u­lat­ed for their excel­lent assis­tance. Nat­u­ral­ly, the birds all do a won­der­ful job of help­ing to eat the fresh bread.
Kim­mel effec­tive­ly uses the idea of involv­ing the ani­mals, who clear­ly are rep­re­sen­ta­tions of young chil­dren. The mess is made, but the char­ac­ters learn to help in a sweet way. The mitz­vah of hachnasat orchim—wel­com­ing guests—is pre­sent­ed as a beau­ti­ful con­cept. In addi­tion, the uni­ver­sal­i­ty of the neigh­bor­hood com­ing togeth­er to cel­e­brate the New Year indi­cates wish­es for every­one to have a good year.

The whim­si­cal text is fol­lowed by a one-page let­ter to the young read­er (and their care­giv­er) dis­cussing some of the Jew­ish con­cepts in the book and also dis­cuss­es devel­op­men­tal issues such as help­ing oth­ers, tak­ing respon­si­bil­i­ty, encour­ag­ing new skills, and exhibit­ing kind­ness and patience.

Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Spe­cial­ist’s Cer­tifi­cate in infor­ma­tion sci­ence. She is the library direc­tor and media spe­cial­ist at the Mori­ah School in Engle­wood, NJ.

Discussion Questions