Subscribe to The Horn Book

Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile | Class #5, 2015

Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry CrocodileThere are so many stand-alone folktale picture books that it’s hard to choose just one for us to read together. But I’ve used this one for several years because of its humor, voice, and authenticity. Interestingly, it also represents two story types: noodleheads (heroes or heroins who are a bit scatterbrained) and tricksters (a small person or animal who is lower in a hierarchy — like the food chain — tricking the higher-up character).

I urge you not to try too hard to find a message for children here. Lots of folktales are meant for pure enjoyment and escapism. One reason kids like trickster tales is because they can identify with the lower class or smaller characters, since most of the time in their world, the adult calls the shots — and wins the arguments.

Lolly Robinson About Lolly Robinson

Lolly Robinson is the creative director for The Horn Book, Inc. She has degrees in studio art and children's literature and teaches children's literature at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education. She has served on the Caldecott and Boston Globe-Horn Book Award committees and blogs for Calling Caldecott and Lolly's Classroom on this site.



  1. Annie Thomas says:

    I enjoyed this story! It was very colorful and fun and had a nice twist at the end. I enjoyed the dynamic images and the way the words twisted around the crocodile and the page. This seems to be more of a “low class” type of story in which the smaller animal outsmarts the bigger one.

  2. Geri Low says:

    I can totally imagine children loving this book. The fact that the underdog wins, in a clever witty way, and also that the twist came somewhat unexpectedly adds to the excitement of reading this book. I’m not sure how I feel about the images, only because I found the images of the chicken and the crocodile overly repetitive, occurring many times on one page! Nevertheless, I feel that this book is a wonderful example of a picture book folktale that children will enjoy reading.

  3. Amy Louer says:

    This is a clever story about intelligence outwitting a seemingly unstoppable force. The simplistic prose and the colorful, patchwork illustrations hint at the folkloric nature of the tale. One can imagine that it has been verbally retold over generations, as it is approachable and uncomplicated. The take-away message is applicable to all children, and should be shared as a result.

  4. Rebecca Tan says:

    Sometimes I feel that many folk tales have a moral of the story, that can make reading a contrived activity with a lesson. The subtle humour in this tale (due to Mrs. Chicken’s cleverness) makes the lesson digestible and enjoyable even. I feel like this would be well received by children who would be delighted in being in on Mrs. Chicken’s secret. On one hand I feel that chickens and crocodiles are familiar to children all over the world, and hence this tale would appeal to a wide audience. On the other hand, its narrative reads in a distinctive story-telling manner. I love how it manages to capture that important aspect, so that it can be re-told to children from the book.

  5. Haneen Sakakini says:

    This was a very interesting book. It was a book that to be honest I did not want to put down. I really enjoyed the story and reading the ways the chicken tried to convince the crocodile that they are related. The illustrations also captured my attention, and helped tell the story or this brave chicken trying to outwit this hungry crocodile.

    It was interesting to go back and look up lesson plans that incorporate this book and understanding their reasoning behind it.

  6. Allison Bates says:

    This is an adorable book that I think lots of kids would love. I definitely agree with Rebecca’s idea that children reading this book would be delighted to be in on Mrs. Chicken’s secret of the switched eggs. There are lots of other fun elements that make the reader laugh: Mrs. Chicken believing she is looking at her reflection and seeing Mrs. Crocodile instead, and the concept of the two mothers “switching babies.” I love the contrasting patterns between the two animals, especially because their appearances are such a large element of this book. This is a very original story with an ending I did not see coming.

  7. Anderson says:

    I really enjoyed this book. My favorite little quote that I think children would find humorous is when the crocodile bit the chicken’s foot. The chicken said, “BOK!! Let GO!”… I think that an adult reader making the chicken sqawk sound would tickle children. I also thought that it was interesting that vanity was what got the chicken into trouble.
    One thing that I think children could actually utilize is finding commonality with someone that may be antagonistic. That building of commonality and sameness saved the chicken’s life, but in real life, finding commonalities can often reduce or eliminate conflict. This was a great story with several twists and a lot of underlying meaning.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind