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THE CHICKEN PROBLEM by Jennifer  Oxley


by Jennifer OxleyBilly Aronson illustrated by Jennifer Oxley

Age Range: 4 - 8

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-375-86989-1
Publisher: Random House

Oxley and Aronson present a work based on their new PBS show, Peg + Cat.

It’s a good thing that Peg and Cat are problem-solvers. Their picnic has been laid, and everyone has a piece of pie just the right size for them—but there are three picnickers and four pieces of pie. While Peg melts down about the lonely piece of pie, Cat goes to the coop and gets a chick, solving the problem. But by leaving the coop unlatched, he has created a bigger problem—100 times larger, to be exact. When collecting the adorable chicks by hand only garners 10, the duo latch onto the MacGuffin of using "wheely things" to lure the chicks back, because “[c]hickens really love going for a ride.” While the story is not all that strong, the pictures are a riot, math subtly woven into both the text and layout—the clouds are infinity signs, and the page numbers are all +1 math problems. There are places where the text comes up to the level of the artwork, particularly the spreads that depict the chicks running amok, the text describing their actions so readers can search the chicken-crowded scenes to find them. Standouts include “chickens doing the chicken dance” and “chickens bending over and wiggling their bottoms in the air.”

Cute, but one can’t help but wish for a separation of screen and text. (Picture book. 4-8)