Chicken Little may not be “the brightest chicken in the coop,” but he’s definitely not the only birdbrain in this version of the classic tale.
In East’s cartoon illustrations, Chicken Little leads the familiar crew of feathered followers (including Henny Penny, who often is the one to take the acorn on the noggin in other versions) in a comically frantic dash to find the king. But so badly does the decidedly shifty-looking Foxy Loxy bungle the climactic nab that not only do the birds escape, but Foxy is trucked off behind bars while the king calms the kerfuffle by pointing to the perfectly intact sky. The fox does better in the co-published Gingerbread Man, illustrated by Miriam Latimer, as he gobbles down his sugary treat—after which the lonely bakers take all the other hungry animals home for a “fantastic feast” of cakes and pastries. In Rumpelstiltskin, illustrated by Loretta Schauer, though the scraggly-bearded little man only has to spin straw into gold for one night, Alperin mostly sticks to the traditional plotline and ultimately sends him through the floor and into the royal dungeon so that baby Hugo and his parents live happily ever after. The illustrations in all three of these uniform editions share traditional settings, all-white humans, and bright, simple looks. The retellings are aimed at younger audiences, though by cutting the cumulative language in Chicken Little and Gingerbread Man to a minimum, the author drains some of the distinctive tone and character from those folk tales.
No substitutes for more traditional renditions—but not spoiled by the alterations, either. (Picture book/folk tale. 5-7)