Chicken Talk

illus. by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 32p. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. Jan. 2019. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062398642.
PreS-Gr 2—Farmer Otis, his wife, Abby, and their children, Willie and Belle, are surprised when their 12 chickens begin writing them messages. The family, extremely fond of their chickens, name them, feed them arugula, and let them roam free. Willie and Belle even allow them to peer into their books when they read outdoors. Then one day, messages start appearing: "No more arugula" and "More stories about brave chickens." The messages, sometimes containing reversals of the letter "e," seem to be written by the chickens. When one message rebukes Tripp, the mail carrier, for his fast driving, the disbelieving postal worker decides to camp out that night to discover the truth. The evening's events convince him of the chickens' authorship (though a remark by Willie might lead readers to think otherwise) and he spreads the word. Egg sales take off, and even more messages appear. The large watercolor illustrations, many of them spreads, contain a great deal of humor. The chickens are filled with personality, offering sideways glances, eye rolls, and perplexed or scolding expressions. In one amusing scene, three white hens sit on porch chairs "like elegant ladies." A chicken's-eye view shows a hen, Trixie, seeming to have a confrontation with Otis, only the farmer's boot and pants leg visible.
VERDICT This story, suitable for group sharing, will engage readers and could lead to a hunt for clues about the true source of the messages.

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