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STARLA JEAN by Elana K. Arnold Kirkus Star


Which Came First: the Chicken or the Friendship?

From the Starla Jean series, volume 1

by Elana K. Arnold ; illustrated by A.N. Kang

Pub Date: Jan. 19th, 2021
ISBN: 978-1-250-30576-3
Publisher: Roaring Brook

A girl and a rescued chicken become best friends in a new series for developing readers.

When Starla Jean finds a skinny, bug-eyed chicken at the park, her dad promises her if she can catch it, she can keep it. To her father’s dismayed surprise, Starla Jean does indeed catch the chicken, immediately naming her Opal Egg. The more she learns about Opal Egg, the more Starla Jean wants to keep her, but what if the chicken belongs to someone else? This series starter features Starla Jean’s exuberant first-person narration, liberally punctuated with dialogue with her family and neighbors. Readers transitioning to early chapter books will appreciate the four short chapters and the limited amount of text per page, wide margins, and ample space between lines of text. Occasionally, the white space around the text is humorously interrupted by bold, red chicken sound effects. Soft, textured cartoons in muted colors further the comedic storytelling and provide readers natural places to rest their eyes. Present on every double-page spread, illustrations range in size from small pictures set within the text to expansive illustrations taking up most or all of a spread. The setting is quaint, a rural town with picturesque stone bridges and old-fashioned houses. Starla Jean’s family is depicted with light-brown or dark hair and pale skin. Elderly neighbors are depicted with pale or light tan skin and white hair.

Mercy Watson fans will flock to this whimsical new series for developing readers.

(Fiction. 6-9)