Brave Chicken Little
Byrd’s rewrite of the Chicken Little story is a distinct improvement on traditional versions that see Foxy Loxy triumph; Byrd (Electric Ben!
) lets Chicken Little defeat him. The story is set in a countryside lined with stone walls and shaded by green trees, and the animals are dressed in 18th-century cravats and waistcoats, finery that looks particularly good on the stout Piggy Wiggy and the mole twins, Roly and Poly Moley. Lured by Foxy Loxy into the cellar with the rest of the sky-is-falling gang, Chicken Little escapes through a tiny window and gives Foxy Loxy a fright of his own, smacking him and his family on the head with apples. “Oh me, oh my!” Foxy Loxy cries, “I’ve just been hit by a piece of the sky!” (He always speaks in verse.) In pen-and-ink spreads drawn with a sense of lyricism pleasantly at odds with the slapstick prose, Byrd outlines every leaf, feather, and blade of grass, and pays careful attention to light and shadow, washing the dirt paths with the gold of the afternoon sun and tracing the long shadows as it sets. Ages 4–up. (Aug.)