Chicken in the Kitchen

illus. by Mehrdokht Amini. 32p. Lantana Publishing. Sept. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781911373155.
K-Gr 2—The night before the New Yam Festival, Anyaugo is wakened by a noise and finds a giant chicken in her kitchen. Worried that the chicken will spoil the special food that her mother and aunties prepared for the festival, Anyaugo seeks help from the Wood Wit, a nature spirit who can travel through anything made of wood. The Wood Wit teases Anyaugo a bit, telling her that she must speak to the chicken in Chickenese, '"Say buck buck CLUCK,' the Wood Wit suggested. 'But you have to say it just right!' It burst out laughing, amused with itself." Readers know what Anyaugo doesn't—that the Wood Wit has been there all along, aggravating the chicken out of Anyaugo's sight. The child summons her courage, and faces the chicken with a brave, "Hello!" The chicken smiles and the Wood Wit hums a soft drumbeat. Anyaugo realizes that this is not an ordinary chicken, but a powerful masquerade spirit visiting her ahead of the New Yam Festival. Amini's jewel-toned illustrations are richly textured, providing readers with much detail outside of the text. Sweet Anyaugo's round face perfectly expresses her changing emotions on each page, and her feline companion adorably echoes Anyaugo's feelings.
VERDICT A sweet and satisfying story set in Nigeria that may inspire readers to learn more about the New Yam Festival and masquerades. A recommended general purchase for all libraries.

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