This is one in a new series of 32-page picture books that would fit into the ‘fractured fairytale’ genre. In this clever twist on The Little Red Hen combined with The Gingerbread Man, Katie encourages children to ask for help if they find themselves in an overwhelming situation.
The familiar characters included in this book: the hen, the fox and the gingerbread man, make an instant connection with readers and the lilting rhymes make for easy listening.
Katie uses clever humour to add appeal for example when John, the reporter, makes a tongue-in-cheek comment about Red Hen, finally being dressed.
The last four pages have a recipe for gingerbread men; and also a recipe for wellbeing. The theme throughout the story was Red Hen’s independent attitude. This was all good and fine until disaster happened and she learned to ask for help. There are some pertinent discussion questions e.g. Why is it hard to ask for help, and tips on practising asking and thinking about others who may need help.
I feel the layout of the book is a little old-school and some appeal is lost here. The cover is brightly coloured with a catchy title and a panicked hen but inside some pages have too much white space and many pages have a chunk of text separated from the illustration.
Steve Smallman has done an excellent twist on fairy tales focussing on health and hygiene, but in this series Katie has added to literature focusing on mental wellbeing, but in a fun way, drawing on familiar characters.
I would recommend this series for primary school libraries.
Title: Recipe For Disaster: Fairytale Fraud
Author: Katie Pye
Illustrator: Magnus Blomster
Publisher: Headstart Thinking
Publication: April 2021
Reviewer: Nova Gibson, Library Manager, Massey Primary School, Auckland
How are you recommending this book? Recommended
Opening sentence: Remember the tale of a hardworking hen, who asked, "Who will help me?" again and again?
You can buy this book here