CITY CHICKEN by Arthur Dorros


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Age Range: 4 - 8
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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. 1st, 2003
ISBN: 0-06-028482-X
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 2002


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