Breathtakingly beautiful meta-illustrations will draw many eyes to this tale of a curious chicken who spills some paint.
“This picture is almost finished,” narrates an unseen artist whose life-size pencil and brush lie across a barnyard drawing with cow, chicken coop and wheelbarrow softly shaded and colored but a barn only outlined. “[T]his day is perfect for painting the barn. / But wait. Does one of the chickens want to help?” A small white chicken patters out from the coop onto the blank white background, climbing up onto the edge of a paint pot—and tipping it over. Blue paint flows down the page, splattering on finished and unfinished bits of the original picture. It floods onto pansies, chicks and the cow, whose “moo wakes the chickens. They’re peevish and blue.” Irritated blue chickens give chase across now all-blue spreads; the original chicken who “just wanted to… / HELP!” is intimidated and “[s]incerely sorry.” Watercolor washes and splashes, from pale blue to dark, create wonderful, wet patterns; their liquid edges contrast alluringly with fine pencil lines and shadings. Resourcefully, the chicken tips out the artist’s brush-rinsing water jar, drenching and cleansing this world back into neatness. But is that the artist at the end, painting a real barn outdoors while something hilarious happens indoors in her studio?
Delicate and durable, visually sophisticated yet friendly: simply exquisite. (Picture book. 3-7)