by Audrey Wood
Recommended Age: 4+
In Audrey Wood’s fairy tale, Heckedy Peg, seven children are tricked and kidnapped by a witch while their mother is at the market. Heckedy Peg turns the children into food which she intends to feast on when she returns to her hut in the woods. When their mother returns home with her children’s requests from the market and finds them gone, she bravely sets off to confront the witch and rescue them.
What I Like…
I like virtually everything about this story. It seems to me that a well-written, beautifully illustrated fairy tale is hard to come by, but this story fits the bill perfectly.
The story is simple, but clever, and absolutely draws in childrens’ attention, even after they have read the story a time or two already! The story’s sentence structure is just complex enough that it isn’t too complicated for early readers but isn’t so simple that adults don’t care to read it aloud either. An added bonus? The seven children are named after the days of the week, which will help kids remember the days of the week as well. In our house, our little girls like to guess along with the mother when she has to guess which child was turned into what food.
Visually stunning as well, the illustrations leave little to the imagination in the best way possible. With depth and detail, every time you read this story, you see something new within the illustrations. As the copyright page indicates, all of the illustrations are oil paintings, which I’m sure is why there is an incredible level of depth in the pictures.
What I Don’t Like…
My only complaint about this storybook is how abruptly it ends. As lovely and well-written as the story arc may be, it’s like we ticked all the way to the top of this big exciting roller coaster and then!!!!…!!!!! we’re done. Ride over. I only wish there had been just a little more of a “fight” to overcome the bad guy. I do however, respect the fact that there wasn’t an actual fight or further conflict that would otherwise make the story longer than it needed to be or graphic in any way that would require the books age range to begin at an older age. So I suppose, even if it is rather sudden, I can still accept the ending the way it is written.
All together this is a great story for kids as young as 4 with some magic, a little bit of mystery, just enough suspense and a lot of wit. Our girls at home and my nephew have loved hearing this story read to them over and over so I am sure that your children (or yourself, if you’re jonesing for a good fairy tale!) will love it also.