The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!
by Carmen Agra Deedy; illus. by Eugene Yelchin
Preschool, Primary Scholastic 32 pp.
1/17 978-0-545-72288-9 $17.99
Deedy’s original story of the noisy village of La Paz has the feel of a well-told folktale — one with plenty of dry wit. “It was hard to sleep. It was hard to think. And no one knew what to do. So they fired the mayor. Now they were a very noisy village…without a mayor.” The text’s punchy rhythm creates an engaging storytelling pace. The repressive new mayor, Don Pepe, first outlaws public singing and then follows up with a deluge of ever-stricter laws until La Paz falls completely silent. Seven years pass before change struts into La Paz in the form of a little rooster (gallito). When he wakes up singing “Kee-kee-ree-KEE!” he initiates a serious standoff with the mayor: Don Pepe chops down the gallito’s mango tree, cages him, starves him, and finally threatens to make him into soup. But the gallito sings bravely on, even in the face of impending death (“I sing for those who dare not sing — or have forgotten how”) until the villagers once again find their voices, and together they sing Don Pepe away. Lively art captures the flavor of the story — both its humor and its more sobering points. The characters’ faces and postures flash with fear, anger, frustration, stubbornness, and joy. Bright hues and busy page layouts reflect a boisterous La Paz but fade to dull blues and open space when Don Pepe comes into power. Following the narrative arc, the color and energy return with the gallito’s arrival and resistance. The story closes with an inspiring author’s note encouraging readers and listeners to make themselves heard. Also available in a bilingual edition, with Spanish translation by Madelca Domínguez.
From the May/June 2017 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.