The wolf from the first two of Schwartz and Santat's ninja fairy tales (The Three Ninja Pigs, 2012, etc.) has finally learned to live peacefully—but the fox has yet to learn that lesson.
Author and artist, this time joined by Gomez as co-author, take even greater liberties in this raucous retelling of “Hansel and Gretel.” After a fox steals their mama from the chicken coop, two chicks attend the 3 Pigs Dojo (right across from Wolf Yoga) to learn ninjutsu. When Hensel and Gretel return to the coop after class one day to find their papa gone too, the chicks track the fox's trail through an ominous wood. The sight of a cornbread cottage distracts Hensel, and she is lured inside by a voice inviting: "My dear, come on in for a bite." Hensel realizes her mistake when she sees Mama and Papa in crates. The rhyming, fast-paced text is packed with one-liners. Green, gold, and orange tones predominate in Santat's distinctive artwork, which features big, bold, wide-eyed characters. Horizontal planes turn into dynamic diagonals when Gretel sneaks in and fights the fox, who knows a few moves of her own. That it's a wok thrown by Mama that brings down the fox gets a bit lost, but that doesn't diminish the unflappable bravery of the two chicks, who go on to fight birdnappers everywhere.
Cheep thrills indeed! (Picture book. 5-8)