A counting primer follows the daring escape of 10 chickens from the coop.
One chicken holding a twig like a rifle starts the count by “standing guard.” Then two vigilant chickens break out binoculars and “scan the yard.” “Three chickens hatch the plan. / Four chickens on the lamb.” (Quite literally: They are on top of a lamb.) As the text counts up, more and more chickens join, each with an important job to do. When the total finally reaches 10, they squawk and flap their way to an adventure beyond the barnyard. Ten chickens devour soft pretzels, go shopping and ice-skating, and see a show (Bantam of the Opera, of course). After all that excitement, they are exhausted. Counting back down, they head for home. Unfortunately, they can’t all fit into a cab, so they must come up with other creative modes of transportation. Berry’s snappy rhymes (some brilliantly unexpected: “Five chickens tippy TIPtoe. / Six chickens incognito”) match the frenetic energy of the cunning poultry. But it is Alder’s boldly outlined cartoon chickens that steal the show. Decked out in caps, roller-skates, and super spy sleuth gear, they each have distinct personalities, which readers can trace through the pages. One uses a skateboard; another rides in a tagalong behind an older chicken’s bike.
Simple but clever: a good egg. (Picture book. 3-6)