The Little Small Red Hen was a favorite of my mother’s when she was a child. Her copy – found among her things while I was sorting through her estate – was published in 1918 by M. A. Donohue & Company without any indication of the identity of either the author or the illustrator.
However, research reveals that the story was originally written by Mary Clarissa “May” Byron (née Gillington; 1861 – November 5, 1936) and was first published in 1911. Ms. Byron was an English poet and writer, who specialized in writing biographies of great artists, but later went on to rewrite some of J. M. Barrie’s works for young readers. She is now best known for her authorized abridgments of the well-loved Peter Pan novels.
Unfortunately, I was unable to find any clue as to the identity of the illustrator for the 1918 edition. However, the pictures are delightful, and seem perfectly suited for coloring – regardless of what medium you choose. For this reason, the back of each full-page illustration is left blank, so that the colorist won’t have to worry about bleed-thru if using markers or ink.
The short video below will give you a peek inside the pages of this charming book:
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