Fun but lightweight, this title adds little to the canon of chicken kid-lit.

CHICKENS ON THE LOOSE

Urban backyard chickens go on a madcap tour of the city in this rhyming romp.

When a flock of hens and one little chick escape from their backyard coop, they make the most of their chaotic dash around a vibrant city. Pursued by an ever growing crowd of frantic humans, the chickens sneak into shops, abscond with food-cart delights, and add some painted poultry touches to a wall mural. As in many picture books about mischievous chickens, the joy lies in the thrilling pandemonium the birds create from Page 1. This promising start leads to a satisfying “SPLAAAT!!!” at the climax of the chase. Unfortunately, the following pages fail to resolve the story clearly, as the humans inexplicably disappear and the chickens magically end up back in their coop. The rhyming text has stop-and-go pacing that mimics the chickens’ running and the humans’ attempts to stop them. A word here or there seems a bit forced into the rhyme scheme, but overall the narrative bounces off the tongue. The marker-bright illustrations are frenetic and filled with humorous details. Human characters have a wide range of skin tones, hair colors and textures, and attire. Backmatter includes information about urban chicken keeping and a few chicken facts. This information is interesting but also a bit incongruous as the chickens in the book are so anthropomorphized.

Fun but lightweight, this title adds little to the canon of chicken kid-lit. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: May 11, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5132-6724-1

Page Count: 32

Publisher: West Margin Press

Review Posted Online: March 31, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2021

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A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together.

HEY, DUCK!

A clueless duckling tries to make a new friend.

He is confused by this peculiar-looking duck, who has a long tail, doesn’t waddle and likes to be alone. No matter how explicitly the creature denies he is a duck and announces that he is a cat, the duckling refuses to acknowledge the facts.  When this creature expresses complete lack of interest in playing puddle stomp, the little ducking goes off and plays on his own. But the cat is not without remorse for rejecting an offered friendship. Of course it all ends happily, with the two new friends enjoying each other’s company. Bramsen employs brief sentences and the simplest of rhymes to tell this slight tale. The two heroes are meticulously drawn with endearing, expressive faces and body language, and their feathers and fur appear textured and touchable. Even the detailed tree bark and grass seem three-dimensional. There are single- and double-page spreads, panels surrounded by white space and circular and oval frames, all in a variety of eye-pleasing juxtapositions. While the initial appeal is solidly visual, young readers will get the gentle message that friendship is not something to take for granted but is to be embraced with open arms—or paws and webbed feet.

A sweet, tender and charming experience to read aloud or together. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: Jan. 22, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-375-86990-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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Willems’ formula is still a winner.

THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH!

From the Pigeon series

The pigeon is back, and he is filthy!

Readers haven’t seen the pigeon for a couple of years, not since The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? (2012), and apparently he hasn’t bathed in all that time. Per the usual routine, the bus driver (clad in shower cap and bathrobe) opens the story by asking readers to help convince the pigeon to take a bath. Though he’s covered in grime, the obstreperous bird predictably resists. He glares at readers and suggests that maybe they need baths. With the turn of the page, Willems anticipates readers’ energetic denials: The pigeon demands, “YEAH! When was the last time YOU had a bath?!” Another beat allows children to supply the answer. “Oh.” A trio of flies that find him repulsive (“P.U.!”) convinces him it’s time. One spread with 29 separate panels depicts the pigeon adjusting the bath (“Too wet!…Too cold.…Too reflective”) before the page turn reveals him jumping in with a spread-filling “SPLASH!” Readers accustomed to the pigeon formula will note that here the story breaks from its normal rhythms; instead of throwing a tantrum, the pigeon discovers what readers already know: “This is FUN!” All the elements are in place, including page backgrounds that modulate from dirty browns to fresh, clean colors and endpapers that bookend the story (including a very funny turnabout for the duckling, here a rubber bath toy).

Willems’ formula is still a winner. (Picture book. 3-6)

Pub Date: April 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9087-5

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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