A South African import with echoes of “Chicken Little” and other absurd chain-of-events tales.
When a little guinea fowl chick cheeps in the South African veldt, it sets off a chain reaction that causes a frenzy among the other animals. Rhyming, “House That Jack Built”–style verse details how an elephant stomps, which makes a kudu lift its horns and prick a monkey that lets out a scream, and so on. No, the sky isn’t falling, but the hubbub created by the animals grows until a “ranger” (depicted as a young brown-skinned child) declares “I’LL SAVE EVERYONE!” as the animals crash into his small house. A “quiet and wise” owl observes the chaos from a tall treetop and commands, “STOP!” The animals frantically describe a terrible beast they’ve heard, which an accompanying illustration depicts as a composite character made of up the very same creatures who’ve caused all the upset and noise in their cumulative actions. The owl dismisses them and says it was just the chick who let out that first little cheep. And, “where is THAT chick that let out the CHEEP?” A final page turn reveals that “she’s back in the nest, FAST ASLEEP!” This satisfying conclusion rounds out a humorous read that’s enhanced throughout the book by Rankin’s energetic watercolor-and-ink illustrations with their sketchy linework and great sense of movement.
A definite hit. (Picture book. 2-5)