Written and Illustrated by Pat Hutchins
Aladdin Paperbacks, 1968
Rosie the hen went for a walk…
The plot in a nutshell: A hen out for a stroll manages to avoid a fox
As Rosie sets out for her walk, she fails to notice the fox under the henhouse, who doesn’t fail to notice her. He leaps out at her, but lands on a rake, which snaps up and hits him full in the face. Rosie continues past the pond and the fox leaps again, but lands in the river. She climbs over a haystack and the fox tries to follow her, but falls into the hay. When she passes the mill, her foot snags a string tied to a bag of flour, which empties it down onto the fox’s head. Rosie steps through the fence and the fox jumps over it, landing in a cart, which crashes into a row of beehives. As Rosie returns home from her walk, the bees chase the fox into the distance.
Author/illustrator Pat Hutchins created this whole story with only one sentence of 32 words. The sentence follows Rosie’s path, telling us all the places that she goes and probably making it a great resource for classrooms teaching about prepositions (since she goes across, over, under, past, around and through). The minimal text is a smart choice, since the real focus of the story is what’s happening behind Rosie, as the fox keeps running into trouble while trying to snag himself a quick chicken dinner.
Like many books of that same era, the artwork uses only a few colors (yellow, orange, red, brown, black and green) but they are more than enough to make the illustrations pop off the page. Rosie’s completely oblivious expression as the fox pursues her keeps the book’s predatory theme light and comical, with an almost Coyote vs. Roadrunner feel, for those of us who grew up with those cartoons. Weston Woods produced an animated short of this story that was included with a collection of stories about life on a farm. This quick and easy read is fun and enjoyable.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that there are lots of dangers out there, but they shouldn’t stop you from going out and enjoying the world.