Byrd retells the familiar tale of folly and trickery, adding some outsize bravery and a happy ending.
Off on an errand for his mother, Chicken Little gets bonked by an acorn. “The sky is falling! I must go and tell the king!” The misguided chick encounters an increasing stream of equally foolish, frightened animals, from Henny Penny to Roly and Poly Moley. The menagerie of 10 encounters Foxy Loxy, who, speaking in sly rhymes, diverts them. “Oh, please, please, let me come, too! I know the best way, I do! I do!…But first, my dear friends, we’ll stop for brunch, or maybe instead, a nice little lunch.” Foxy lures the group to his cottage, where his wife and seven hungry kits wait near a steaming, but not yet boiling, cauldron. When Foxy locks the hapless stew ingredients in the basement, it’s Chicken Little who figures out an escape and outfoxes the fox. Byrd’s charming ink-and-watercolor illustrations depict the animals in old-fashioned clothing with flounces, vests and cravats. Crosshatching and intricate lines define each leaf, butterfly, bee and flower against the lush, pastoral backdrop of woods and rolling hills. The parade of fleeing animals runs right past the king’s long shadow at sunset. Safely tucked under a quilt by his mother, Chicken Little’s too exhausted to utter a word about his errant bravery.
A handsome, most welcome addition to the now–sadly neglected, too-little–published literature of folk and fairy tales. (Picture book/folk tale. 4-7)