About the Holiday
Fried chicken with its crispy outside and tender, juicy inside is the star of American Southern home style cooking. The tradition, brought to America by Scottish immigrants, is a favorite for summer picnics and has spawned many an on-the-go restaurant. There’s only one way to celebrate this holiday…well, maybe two—sink your teeth into some delicious fried chicken and devour today’s book!
Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks
Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez | Illustrated by Dan Santat
The times, they are a’menacing. A fox is prowling and has already chicken napped Hensel and Gretel’s ma, shaking up their pa. Hensel and Gretel know just what to do—they enroll at the 3 Pigs Dojo and “they trained in the art of ninjutsu / and practiced their wing throws and blocks. / They learned how to creep / without making a peep / so they wouldn’t fall prey to that fox.” Their training proves advantageous as the day soon comes when Hensel and Gretel have to put their training into practice.
One day they return home to find that their pa has also been nabbed by the fox. While they may be chickens the sisters definitely aren’t chicken so they go in search of their pop. They drop crumbs on their trail to lead them back home, but the forest grows “twisted and tangled” and they soon discover that the breadcrumbs are gone. Bravely, they trek through the woods until they see a light. “It came from a cottage of corn bread! / ‘Let’s eat!’ Hensel clucked with delight. / She nibbled away till she heard someone say, / ‘My dear, come on in for a bite.’”
Caught off guard, Hensel enters the house but quickly realizes her mistake when she sees a pan in the oven. In the corner she finds her pa locked away in a crate. The fox grabs her and adds her to the crate with her dad. While she is fattening up, the fox tells her, he’ll eat another hen from his stock. That hen turns out to be Hensel and Gretel’s mom! Meanwhile, Gretel has squeezed her way through the chimney “with ninja-like silence and speed.” She frees her ma and with “one feathered sweep” blocks the fox’s advance.
The fox fights back, but Mama comes to Gretel’s rescue with a well-aimed wok just as Hensel and Papa break free. But the crate doesn’t stay empty for long: “With one wicked spin, / Hensel kicked the fox in! / ‘You’re done with your chick-frying spree!’” Back home Hensel and Gretel are congratulated, and “from then on they made it their mission / to rescue, protect and defend. / They’d work night and day / to liberate prey / till bird-napping came to an end.”
Ninja pandemonium is back! This time the martial arts are served up chicken style in Corey Rosen Schwartz and Rebecca J. Gomez’s take on Grimm’s Hansel and Gretel story. All the intrigue and suspense of the original is here, but blazingly spiced and fried up with delicious puns, sizzling verbs, and some of the most riotous rhymes you’ll ever read.
Dan Santat again lends his agile artwork to the springs, spins, and stealth of the world of the dojo. Feathers fly; the fox leaps, chops, and winces; and Hensel and Gretel perform some serious Kiya! Santat’s forest is gloomy and forbidding, the air shimmers with the force of well-placed kicks, and the large close-up images put readers in the middle of the action.
Everyone from small-fries to hens and roosters will flip over Hensel and Gretel Ninja Chicks. It’s a must addition to any child’s library.
Ages 4 – 9
G. P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2016 | ISBN 978-0399176265
Watch Hensel and Gretel kick some tail feathers in the trailer for their book!
To discover more books by Corey Rosen Schwartz as well as fun activities and how to be a Book Ninja, visit her website.
Activities, tips, books, and more by Rebecca J. Gomez can be found on her website.
A gallery of art, list of books, and more information about Dan Santat is available on his website.
National Fried Chicken Day Activity
Turn Over a New Chicken
A long-handled wooden turner makes a plucky decoration for your room or kitchen! With a few simple additions, you’ll have a cute companion you’ll want to crow about!
- Printable Comb and Scarf Template
- Long-handled wooded turner, available in kitchen supply stores
- Red felt
- Yellow bakable clay
- Fabric, 12 inches square
- A small piece of white felt or fleece (optional)
- White paint (or any color you would like)
- Black marker
- Fabric glue
- Glue gun
- Paint brush
- Paint the wooden turner, let dry
- Cut the scarf from the piece of fabric
- Make a beak from the yellow clay and bake it according to package directions
To make the comb
- Cut out the comb from the red felt
- Fold the felt in half and glue the end together with the fabric glue
- Cut short strips from the folded top of the felt, about ½-inch to ¾ -inch in length
- Round the corners of the strips slightly
To make the scarf
- Fold the fabric in half
- With the long, straight edge of the scarf template along the fold, cut out the scarf
- With the fabric glue, glue the two sides of the scarf together so that you have two “right” sides
- Let dry
To assemble the chicken
- Pinch the bottom of the comb together so that the strips open and the felt pleats a little
- With the glue gun attach the comb to the back of the painted turner, keeping the bottom pinched together
- Attach the beak to the front of the turner
- Draw eyes on the chicken with the black marker
- Tie the scarf around the neck of the handle, hold in place with a drop of glue in the back if necessary
- To make tail feathers in a turner with a hole in the handle, pinch together a small folded piece of white felt or fleece and push it through the hole in the handle of the turner.
- Cut or arrange to look like feathers