A lighthearted tale of the perils of gossip lends itself well to a picture-book treatment that expertly captures its humor. A chance wry remark by a hen who has lost a feather while preening herself is enlarged as it passes from hens to owls to pigeons to a rooster--until it is exaggerated into the tragic story of five hens plucking themselves to death for love. Stevens' version retains Andersen's mock-serious tone, paring the original only slightly. Her vigorous full-page illustrations use her familiar anthropomorphic style with appropriate humor. Touches that have seemed cartoonish in some of her other adaptations work nicely here, as each animal gossip is given a vivid facial expression and as the progress of the exaggeration is depicted in hilarious balloon inserts, literal but with a light touch--even the five lovelorn hens, lying dead in puddles of blood, are made innocuously funny. The warm, brightly colored pictures with their swirls and flurries of feathers make this a good choice for reading aloud. A satisfying book from an artist who has found a story well suited to her talents.