What’s wrong with Abuela Lola? Our birthday girl asked her three times for amusement-park tickets, and you know what? Abuela sent her a take-charge chicken styling yellow construction boots instead!
If that isn’t bad enough, the tool-belt–wearing denizen of the barnyard has subverted all the pigtailed Latina’s pets. Not a one has time for cake, no one wants to play, and everyone is ignoring the aggrieved narrator. To make matters worse, the chicken (via imperative-clause picket signs) demands that Abuela travel posthaste to the child’s backyard. Dogs wearing hard hats, birds hoisting girders, grandmas operating bulldozers—has the world gone mad? Gehl’s sparsely worded wink to Anne Isabella Ritchie’s evolving axiom, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for life,” is made into a masterpiece by Horne’s distinctive and humorously sly illustrations. The raucous colors pop against the wry, understated refrain, “I got a chicken for my birthday.” Practically every clever detail begs to be the center of attention. Is the chicken’s scrolled supply list with the sneakily embedded song lyrics the pièce de résistance, or is it the hamster powering the monstrous Ferris wheel? Visual puns compete with subtle tweaks to the funny bone, and each deserves to be savored in its own right.
Either Horne was in Gehl’s pocket or vice versa, because this utterly seamless blend of story and art is an ingenious treat for all ages. (Picture book. 3-8)