CITY CHICKEN

A storm of double-entendres and figures of speech turned into literalisms, plus a fine little twist on commonly held notions of city vs. country, make Dorros’s story of a chicken that flew the coop a winner. Henry—short for Henrietta, it seems—is a city chicken. She has her own coop and the run of the backyard where she works the scratch and chats with Lucy, the family cat. Lucy regales Henry with stories of strange farm animals, reflected in illustrations showing Henry’s interpretation of them. Henry decides to investigate for herself. She tries to fly to the country, but opts to take the bus when her wings fail her. Henry asks a passing ant, “Where is the country these days?” The ant motions to a truck headed in the right direction, a garbage truck, which, the ant notes, serves great meals. Once in the country and on a farm, Henry gets the special treat of visiting a substantial chicken coop, which resembles a cross between a purgatorial apartment house and a forced-labor camp. Henry is on the next truck home and another pastoral idyll gets its balloon pricked. This is not Cole’s most inspired work, though he still manages to stand above the crowd. The illustrations, with their corny mannerisms, flag when held up next to the text. But Dorros shines, the wordplay at just the right pitch of sophistication, slyly winking at the readers as it invites them in on all the jokes. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 2003

ISBN: 0-06-028482-X

Page Count: 40

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2002

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A DOG NAMED SAM

A book that will make young dog-owners smile in recognition and confirm dogless readers' worst suspicions about the mayhem caused by pets, even winsome ones. Sam, who bears passing resemblance to an affable golden retriever, is praised for fetching the family newspaper, and goes on to fetch every other newspaper on the block. In the next story, only the children love Sam's swimming; he is yelled at by lifeguards and fishermen alike when he splashes through every watering hole he can find. Finally, there is woe to the entire family when Sam is bored and lonely for one long night. Boland has an essential message, captured in both both story and illustrations of this Easy-to-Read: Kids and dogs belong together, especially when it's a fun-loving canine like Sam. An appealing tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: April 1, 1996

ISBN: 0-8037-1530-7

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Dial Books

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1996

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Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions.

HOME

Ellis, known for her illustrations for Colin Meloy’s Wildwood series, here riffs on the concept of “home.”

Shifting among homes mundane and speculative, contemporary and not, Ellis begins and ends with views of her own home and a peek into her studio. She highlights palaces and mansions, but she also takes readers to animal homes and a certain famously folkloric shoe (whose iconic Old Woman manages a passel of multiethnic kids absorbed in daring games). One spread showcases “some folks” who “live on the road”; a band unloads its tour bus in front of a theater marquee. Ellis’ compelling ink and gouache paintings, in a palette of blue-grays, sepia and brick red, depict scenes ranging from mythical, underwater Atlantis to a distant moonscape. Another spread, depicting a garden and large building under connected, transparent domes, invites readers to wonder: “Who in the world lives here? / And why?” (Earth is seen as a distant blue marble.) Some of Ellis’ chosen depictions, oddly juxtaposed and stripped of any historical or cultural context due to the stylized design and spare text, become stereotypical. “Some homes are boats. / Some homes are wigwams.” A sailing ship’s crew seems poised to land near a trio of men clad in breechcloths—otherwise unidentified and unremarked upon.

Visually accomplished but marred by stereotypical cultural depictions. (Picture book. 4-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-7636-6529-6

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Nov. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014

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