Fox and Hen Together (Stories Without Words)
The unlikely romance that crowned The Chicken Thief (2010) keeps shining in this wordless sequel. Ms. Rodriguez’s sunny, whimsical illustrations and her sly revelation of an important theme combine to produce a refreshing and sophisticated children’s story.
In the opening scene of Fox and Hen Together, we see that even a loving couple needs food in the fridge. Hen carefully hands Fox the egg she’s been cradling and sets out with her fishing pole and Crab to fix the situation.
Ms. Rodriguez has created such simple yet expressive ink-and-wash artwork, it is obvious Fox is comfortable with this unorthodox arrangement. We also understand that Crab, waving a claw goodbye to Fox, is a sympathetic and likable friend.
That perception of Crab gets reinforced with the ensuing action, as Hen’s fine catch gets snatched by an enormous bird. Through the air they go, Hen clasping her fishing line, and Crab pinching Hen’s tail feathers. As children and adults explore this story’s spirited, wide scenes, conversions will no doubt veer into comedic territory, as surprising images such as Crab surfing in a wave appear.
Older children will find much to enjoy here, too, as the lively story sports plenty of action and suspense. Hen and Crab escape from the bird thief only to encounter a fierce sea monster. Hen’s creative use of her fishing line delivers them from danger.
As she and Crab rush back home, though, a horrible sight greets them. On the table lie a cracked egg . . . and a skillet. Hen grabs that pan and edges toward Fox, who is rocking in a chair beside the fire. Suddenly she sees what Fox is cuddling, and the pan lands on the floor. When readers discover that she—and perhaps they, too—have reached the wrong conclusion, they will feel like joining the animals in their evening celebration.
Sometimes it takes a golden-hued fox to remind us how deceptive appearances can be.