PreS-Gr.2. Barnyard animals learn a lesson about manners and passing judgments in this moral tale drawn from Joel Chandler Harris' Uncle Remus stories. A cow, a chicken, and their friends are thrilled to attend a party at the neighboring farm. The event begins well, with games and entertainment. Then dinner is served, and the animals are disappointed by what appears to be a meal of cornbread. "I eat cornbread every day," scoffs Rooster before stalking off. The remaining animals, though, find a delicious meal beneath the cornbread crust, and Rooster learns to be more thoughtful. Children may have questions about the southern idioms and references, such as ham bone (musical percussion played on the body), but the publisher's Web site offers cultural context (along with lesson plans), and the smooth text is well shaped for read-alouds, as are the bright, clearly arranged paintings of the expressive, whimsically outfitted animals. One quibble: the text focuses on vegetables, but one picture shows a pig tucking into what looks like a piece of bacon. Suggest this for teachers seeking lighthearted material for character education units.
The Kirkus Reviews
An invitation to a party brings neighboring animals to visit and play Pin the Tail on the Donkey (Donkey really doesn't want to play that), Hide and Seek and Horseshoes using Horse's shoes. Singing and dancing follows, and then the barnyard animals sit down to dinner. When that turns out to be large pots of cornbread, Rooster rudely leaves, declaring cornbread to be his everyday fare. However, once he learns that a wonderful and varied feast was hidden in the cornbread, he sulks and is never again content to see only what is on top. That's why to this day, he scratches and scratches beneath the food he finds. Tate's lushly painted acrylics capture the animals at their silliest and rooster at his sulkiest. This mostly literary retelling is filled with contemporary cliches and incorporates the motifs and plot structure of the traditional African-American tale. Fun for telling or reading.
Young Adult (& Kids) Books Central
The barnyard animals are invited to a neighboring farm for a party. After fun and games, they sit down to dinner and are disappointed to see big bowls of cornbread. Most of the animals are polite, but Rooster leaves without a thank you or a goodbye. The animals are in for a big surprise--and when Rooster hears about it, we discover why chickens scratch the dirt as they eat. The Hidden Feast, with a surprise ending, is stuffed with Southern hospitality and idioms. Parents, educators and young readers will appreciate this story's African-American roots. I am a big fan of illustrator Don Tate. I always appreciate Mr. Tate's use of perspective (see Summer Sun Risin' and Black All Around). In The Hidden Feast, he does not disappoint. Whether we're looking Rooster in the eye or viewing the cornbread like a dog beneath the table begging for scraps, the illustrations bring this story to life.