When a fall from a ladder leaves jolly Antoine (known as Toine) bedridden, it also puts him at the mercy of his shrewish wife. Madame Colette raises chickens, and with her shrill voice, thin body, and skinny legs, she resembles a resident of the coop herself. She uses Toine as an incubator and, amidst his protestations, tucks five eggs under each of his elbows. For 21 days he nurtures the eggs, hushing his many visitors and hardly stirring himself. The hatching of the chicks mellows Madame Colette; Toine, once again on his feet, feels like a proud father. Although kids will adore the concept of hatching eggs under one's arms, the translation of Guy de Maupassant's story is not always smooth; exclamations that work well in French teeter a bit in English. Halperin (who illustrated Anne Shelby's Homeplace, 1995, etc.) draws readers in with highly detailed, multiple-panel paintings of the French countryside. However, an overall softening of the characters' eccentricities makes this version needlessly skim over the hearty, bucolic humor for which the tale, setting, and two protagonists were created.