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CHICKEN CHUCK by Bill Martin


by Bill Martin & illustrated by Steven Salerno

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 1-890817-31-7

One of the prolific Martin's more surreal episodes, first published in 1946, earns a reissue with dandy new illustrations and packaging. After Chicken Chuck eats a blue seed, a like-colored plume sprouts from his forehead, prompting him to lord it over the other barnyard residents. Enter a challenge, in the form of a circus poster depicting a horse with two blue feathers. Chuck and the animals rush off to see, meeting instead a monkey with a feather allergy who plucks out Chuck's pride and joy, then invites everyone to carry off the circus's entire supply of blue feathers. Salerno paints large figures, using sweeping, emphatic brushstrokes and bright, clear colors—his palette enhanced by curls of shimmering silver on Chuck's seed and feather that are presaged on the cover by a huge, blinding wash of holographic flash. In the end Chuck and the animals, all of whom have names like Necky the Goose and Butterfat Cow, parade about with feathers tied to their heads. The story's absurdities may draw some chuckles, but children are likely to be far more dazzled by the illustrations; it's a spectacular debut for Salerno. (Picture book. 6-8)