Friday, January 21, 2011

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

The cover of Interrupting Chicken pretty much explains the story.  Papa is ready to read the little red chicken a bedtime story, yet even on the book’s cover, the little red chicken doesn’t allow readers to get to author David Ezra Stein’s name before interrupting.

Even though she promises Papa that she won’t interrupt that evening’s stories - “Oh no, Papa.  I’ll be good.” - the little red chicken just can’t resist.  Papa’s first story is Hansel and Gretel.  After the children find the house made of candy and the old woman invites them to come inside, just before they follow her ...

“Out jumped a little red chicken, and she said, ‘DON’T GO IN!  SHE’S A WITCH!’  So Hansel and Gretel didn’t.  THE END!”

Whoops.  Papa reminds little red chicken not to get so involved in the story, to relax so she can fall asleep.  The next story is Little Red Riding Hood.  Just as Red is about to respond to the stranger she meets in the woods on the path to Grandma’s house … well, you can guess what happens.  Papa tries Chicken Little, again with predictable results.  The little red chicken prevents a sky-is-falling panic by announcing it was only an acorn.

And with that, Papa is out of stories.  He suggests that the little red chicken tell him a bedtime story instead.

She agrees and chooses one of her own stories, Bedtime for Papa by CHiKn.  Then, wouldn’t you know it, just as the story gets rolling, another interruption.  This time it’s Papa doing the interrupting, but for a totally different reason.

Interrupting Chicken won a 2011 Caldecott Honor for its illustrations.  I’m not much of an art critic - enough of one, maybe, to say that these are bold illustrations and that I like the added touches of candy spilling out from beneath the pages of Hansel and Gretel and the crayon artwork of the little red chicken’s story - so I’m not really qualified to comment on pictures.  But I do feel comfortable recommending the book for young readers.  It’s laugh-out-loud funny, especially when the reader puts the proper excitement into the little red chicken’s interruptions.

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