Mama Hen’s Big Day

Jill Latter, Author
Jill Latter. North-South (Ingram, dist.), $17.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-7358-4109-3
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Mama Hen is ready to lay her egg, but can’t find the right spot to do so. British illustrator Latter contrasts the worried narration with cheerful pastoral watercolors in bright blues, reds, and greens. Several spots that look promising to Mama Hen are already occupied by animals best avoided (a cat, a porcupine, a fox), though even these tend to appear more friendly than threatening—the porcupine’s quills resemble a paintbrush, and the prowling cat wears a wide smile. Eventually, the hen lays her egg “on the tippy-top of the tallest mountain,” which is arguably the most dangerous spot yet, with the sea roiling against a rocky shore far below. Yet Latter ends the story there, with Mama Hen learning, “The best place of all to lay her egg is wherever Mama is!” The story may leave readers wanting more, but Latter’s paintings are a high point. Her loose ink outlines—festooned with dots, swirls, and other flourishes—create a lively yet reassuring atmosphere, while Mama Hen’s apostrophe-shaped eyes effectively convey determination, alarm, and tenderness. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
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