This tabbed, touch-and-feel board book is loaded with features.
There is plenty for tots to touch, from the titular tough chicks’ “feathers,” which resemble shag carpeting more than avian plumage, to sheep’s wool, cowhide, and a mire of sticky mud. Each sturdy page is tabbed, with a picture on each tab of a character who appears in the indexed scene. Every scene is a two-page spread; the final tableau also has a third, fold-out panel. As the illustrations occupy two pages, it is often difficult to know if the book’s text is meant to be read across both pages or down one page, then the other. A little mouse in each scene challenges children to act out deeds of the tough chicks, disrupting the narrative flow. Unfortunately, the challenges don’t involve anything like derring-do, nor are they ironically sedate; instead, they seem unrelated to toughness altogether, missing the mark. “Are you tough enough to flap your wings like Polly?” “Are you tough enough to Cockadoodledooooo like the rooster?” The illustrations do convey action; pictures of one chick breaking out wildly oversized binoculars or another using a tractor to yank a comically large cow from a mud puddle are dynamic, funny, and best suggest toughness in the pint-sized protagonists.
Far too busy but will likely entertain most toddlers anyway. (Board book. 1-4)