Picking up where The Chicken Thief (2010) left off, this companion follows Hen’s erstwhile friends Rabbit, Bear and jilted Rooster as they make their way back home.
As the trio wordlessly traverses much the same scenery they traveled in the first book, only in reverse, readers will notice Rooster’s overweening disgruntlement. (Kids will need familiarity with the first book to understand his funk.) He brightens up only when he discovers a large egg next to very large skeleton in a cave where the friends take shelter. Through various surreal landscapes they pass, all spread out in the same super-wide format as The Chicken Thief and this book’s parallel story, Fox and Hen Together (2011). Rooster all the while cackles maniacally with pride in his egg even as he juggles it rather injudiciously (Bear adopts a glowing newt in a more understated expression of the parental urge). Readers will not be at all surprised by what hatches, and all (finally) live happily ever after. Taken all together, the three books give children a look at adult feelings and the emotional negotiation that goes with them. Will they understand everything? Probably not. But the snapshot, presented so very whimsically, may help give them some intuitive sense of the emotional currents that swirl around them.
Plenty to look at and much to think about in this complex and funny trilogy conclusion. (Picture book. 5-8)