Chicken Big

40p. 978-0-81187-237-9.
PreS-Gr 2—The pint-size poultry are as brainless as ever in this quirky revision of the classic "Chicken Little" tale, but the hero here is mysterious Chicken Big. Is he an elephant? The smaller chickens are sure that he could not be one of them and exclude him from the coop. When an acorn falls on the smallest one's head, she thinks the sky is falling. But when clear-headed Chicken Big explains what it is and pops it into his mouth, the other chickens decide that he must really be a squirrel. Chicken Big's unwilling companions arrive at one ridiculous conclusion after another. He protects them from the rain, so he could be an umbrella. He keeps them warm in a cold breeze, so he could be a sweater. When all the eggs go missing and Chicken Big saves the day, the others realize that "only one thing could be so smart, so kind, so warm, and so brave." (A chicken, of course.) Graves's pastel-hued illustrations with comic-style panels have a spontaneous and quirky quality reminiscent of Mo Willems's Pigeon and Leonardo books, and thoughtful design plays up the disproportionate size of Chicken Big. An amusing tale that will draw giggles from preschool and early elementary read-aloud audiences, this is a fun addition to any collection or comparative folklore unit.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, MI
When a gigantic chick hatches from an egg, the farm's other birds are convinced that he's a squirrel (because he eats an acorn), an umbrella (because he protects everyone from rain), etc. The book's considerable humor coexists easily with its don't-let-others-define-you message. The art, including spreads and cartoon panels, features great dumb-bird reaction shots.
The little chickens reach ridiculous—and hilarious—conclusions as they notice Chicken Big’s talents and traits. For instance, since Chicken Big is able to shelter the little ones from rain, he must be . . . an umbrella! Elements of Chicken Little are sprinkled through the story. Kids will smile at the familiar refrain, “the sky is falling,” in this new context. Comic-book-like touches in the artwork, including the chickens’ silly comments and reactions in speech bubbles, add to the fun. The story runs onto the back cover, providing even more laughs.

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