The age-old “Chicken Little” story, but with a change-up.
An acorn falls on Chicken Little’s head in the barnyard, and, as in the iconic original, she cries, “The sky is falling!” Squirrel points out that it’s just an acorn, but soon all the chickens in the farm are flapping their wings, taking up the cry. Squirrel, Rabbit, and Cat can’t believe how dumb the chickens are, but then they notice that the chickens are actually dancing, not running around in a panic as they first supposed. It looks like fun, and soon everyone joins in, except Fox, who is baffled that his plan isn’t working (since it was he who lobbed the acorn in the first place in an attempt to lure panicked chickens to his den). The message—celebrate surprising experiences instead of panicking—is an apt and worthwhile one. But where the book bogs down is an occasional too-self-conscious cleverness (“Soon, all the chickens were in a tizzy. Chickens are like that”) and the disconnect between Teague’s carefully rendered illustrative style and the lighthearted story. The pages are well-designed, but the scenes often seem more stodgy than lively.
Though this twist on the familiar tale is somewhat heavy-handed in both narrative and image, its sense of fun comes through clearly nonetheless. (Picture book. 2-5)