Bear and Chicken

illus. by Jannie Ho. 32p. Running Pr. Nov. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780762462667.
PreS-Gr 1—Two animals have a chance encounter and one starts to think about eating the other—or does he? Children will love it when they are kept in delicious suspense because they can't decide if one character is going to end up in the stew pot. Ho creates this tension in her latest picture book. It is wintertime, and Bear discovers Chicken in the snowy woods. To his dismay, the chicken appears to be frozen solid. He rushes the fowl into his house, where he proceeds to start a fire and make soup. However, when Chicken awakes from his frozen slumber, the details he notices are enough to send shivers down his spine—a sharp cleaver, a very large stew pot, a recipe that may or may not call for chicken, and a bear with sharp teeth when he smiles. Chicken's panicked flight and eventual confrontation with Bear finally clarify the situation; Bear was just making vegetable soup and hoping to make a new friend! Ho's bright, charming illustrations are reminiscent of the artwork in Little Golden Books as they suggest a sweetness and innocence in the characters. The story ends with a recipe for vegetable soup and a reminder that real black bears are largely vegetarians.
VERDICT An enjoyable read-aloud for young elementary-aged children. Perfect for one-on-one or small group sharing.

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