Blue Chicken

Deborah Freedman. Viking, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-670-01293-0
Freedman’s (Scribble) second outing recalls some of David Wiesner’s work, opening with a painting of a painting: an unfinished picture of a barnyard lies on an illustrator’s desk, three-dimensional tools and pots of ink scattered across its flat surface. Within the painting, chickens sleep in the coop until one plucky hen emerges from the picture plane, knocking over a pot of blue ink and flooding the barnyard. The rest of the animals, roused over several spreads into three-dimensional existence, glare at the chicken. “Maybe the chicken can undo the blue?” She spills a jar of clean water across the page, which—in a tour de force of painterly control—washes the blue away, “Except for the sky. The sky should stay blue on a morning so clear.” Because Freedman’s main interest is in the tension between the two- and three-dimensional spaces, there’s not much time to develop the animals as characters. But she works through the technical problems thoughtfully and skillfully, allowing children to both decipher the action and ponder its implications. Ages 3–5. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 08/15/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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