Kirkus Reviews QR Code
THE CHICKENS BUILD A WALL by Jean-François Dumont


by Jean-François Dumont ; illustrated by Jean-François Dumont

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: April 1st, 2013
ISBN: 978-0-8028-5422-3
Publisher: Eerdmans

A bunch of deluded clucks build a protective wall that is anything but.

The barnyard is going about its usual business when a hedgehog waddles in. The resident animals are intrigued and edge close, whereupon the hedgehog curls into a defensive ball, causing the rat to refer to it as “this chestnut with paws.” Though it has disappeared by the next morning, the rooster—a self-appointed pooh-bah, like all roosters—decides “to take control of a barnyard full of hens who hadn’t been paying much attention to him.” He commands that a wall be built against the prickly invaders, a wall so high even birds couldn’t fly over it. So they labor and labor, building a wall of stupendous height, only to find that the hedgehog has been sleeping under the hay, inside the wall, for the winter. In all too fast a wrap-up, the chickens and hedgehog become fast friends. But if the friendship seems too precipitous, maybe a bigger lesson is in the offing here: Walls don’t work, from prisoner-of-war camps to national borders. The gorgeous European barnyard is all ocher and sienna, with gray-green shadows, old turrets and tiles highlighting the fiery red wattles of the birds.

A beautiful picture book, with an unexpected, yet profound, something to take away. (Picture book. 4-8)