Henny is a chicken but with human arms. (Best not overthink the hows and whys.)
She likes being different from her fellow chickens when she’s climbing a tree, but she doesn’t like being different when the other farm animals laugh at her. In other words, she is Everychicken. Henny’s disproportionately long, spindly, pinkish human arms are particularly creepy to behold, partly due to the soft, delicate nature of the debut author/illustrator’s pencil-and-watercolor illustrations. They allow her certain luxuries foreign to her species, such as hugging her mother and helping Mr. Farmer with his chores. And, somewhat unsettlingly, “She liked it when they fluttered behind her like ribbons when she ran.” (Sometimes her arms are shown as boneless, sometimes not.) In time, the barnyard bird begins to imagine hailing New York taxis, ice-skating, even flying a plane. Unfortunately, there’s no cohesive narrative here, mostly just abundant illustrated examples of what can be accomplished with arms and hands. As Henny worries about tennis elbow and hangnails, imagines pointing or “mak[ing] a point,” plugs her ears or carries a purse, readers may stop caring what Henny can or can’t do.
Whether or not children find a friend in Henny, this picture book needs a storyline. (Picture book. 4-8)