Review of Chicken Talk

Chicken Talk
by Patricia MacLachlan; illus. by Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Preschool, Primary    Tegen/HarperCollins     32 pp.
1/19     978-0-06-239864-2     $17.99

In this slight but charming tale, a farm family’s chickens discover the power of the written word. (It’s not an original conceit, of course; see earlier exemplars of farm-animal empowerment such as Charlotte’s Web, rev. 12/52; and Click, Clack, Moo, rev. 3/00.) The hens (plus one rooster) scratch messages to their humans in the dirt, beginning with “No more arugula!” Subsequent missives admonish the mail carrier from driving too fast and alert the farmers to the birth of new chicks. Soon the chickens are feeling their oats, as it were — asking for home improvements (“too hot. can we have a fan?”; “much too much rain. we need an umbrella”) and reclaiming their identities (the seven look-alike white chickens all named Joyce demand individual, self-chosen names). But throughout all the excitement, however small in scale, it’s a feeling of family affection that shines through. In fact, the final chicken-scratched message in the book is “we love you, good night.” MacLachlan’s text is sweet and gently humorous; Krosoczka’s expressive watercolors accentuate the personalities of the chickens, often placing them in the forefront of a scene, looking directly out at the reader.

From the January/February 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano
Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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