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by Jan Brett & illustrated by Jan Brett

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-399-23618-X
Publisher: Putnam

This popular author visits Asia for a charming tale of a plucky hen. Daisy knows she is loved—young Mei Mei has the six happiest hens in China—but she is tired of being pecked at by the other hens and driven from their cozy perch at night. One wet evening she curls up in one of Mei Mei’s market baskets, with its red Chinese characters reading “happy hens.” But the river takes the basket, and Daisy awakens to find herself far from Mei Mei. She fends off a dog, a water buffalo, and a pack of monkeys in a banyan tree, but is captured by a fisherman who sees his dinner in her plumpness. Mei Mei, after searching all over for Daisy, finally takes her eggs to market where she finds the fisherman who cries “Finders keepers!” Calling her chicken, Mei Mei whisks her away from the fisherman, taking her back to her perch where she uses what she’s learned to secure her place. Brett’s (Hedgie’s Surprise, 2000, etc.) brilliantly colored gouache and watercolor illustrations are pleasingly complex. Each double-page spread is framed by corner pieces edged in bamboo, with vignettes that reflect other action happening in the story at the same time as the main picture. Borders, backgrounds, and basketry patterns reflect many kinds of Asian decorative arts. Even the mountains and trees are often shaped like animals familiar to Brett fans. The hens are attractive and dignified, not anthropomorphized at all, yet individually drawn. The lesson of standing up for oneself is very gently etched in a read-aloud that will reward lots of poring over pictures. (Picture book. 4-8)