A scrawny young rooster named Clyde tries to fill the big shoes of his predecessor, Larry, in Lambert’s verbally dexterous ode to identity.
Larry the rooster brought star power to Sunrise Farm. He knew how, in the farmspun words of motherly goose Roberta, to make “quite a show of it”—“it” being the morning cock-a-doodle-doo. When Clyde pops from his crate to greet his new farm mates, all bumble-footed and insecure in the shadow of the great Larry, the other animals (minus Roberta) find him wanting: in word bubbles of disappointment, “What a worthless chicken.” Clyde endeavors to top Larry at Larry’s game—two-stepping, riding a unicycle, parachuting into the dawn—and he makes a hash of it, because Clyde isn’t Larry. Clyde must find his own voice, and he does so with a little help from Roberta. Where Lambert hoes a row of her own is in the wording of the story. No “said” or “asked” makes an appearance. Rather, readers discover “stammered” and “soothed,” “assured” and “chirped,” “mused” and “fussed.” Costello’s pen-and-watercolor illustrations are a happy vehicle for the story, with colors from deep in the big crayon box, expressive penwork and a pleasing hominess to the farm.
An invitation to be your own showman, crow your own crow, cock-a-doodle-doo with “a little warble at the beginning, and a crescendo at the ‘doodle’...and oh, that raspy growl.” (Picture book. 4-6)