Surfer Chick

Kristy Dempsey, Author, Henry Cole, Illustrator
Kristy Dempsey, illus. by Henry Cole. Abrams, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4197-0188-7
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Chick, a long-lashed tan chicken in a green two-piece bathing suit, is determined to make her surfer-star father proud. Peppered with surf lingo, Dempsey’s (Mini Racer) verses occasionally stretch to make their rhymes work; it’s Cole’s (The Kiss Box) expressive acrylic and colored pencil illustrations that give the heroine her irrepressible character and focus the story’s message about determination. The relationship between Chick and her father is sweetly rendered as he teaches her to paddle (“what happened next/ was a foul-tempered battle”) and to stand on her board (“a colossal wipeout”). Cole’s humorous cartoons are particularly good at depicting Surfer Chick’s emotions—a poignant image shows Surfer Chick gathering her courage (“Alone on the sand,/ Chick simply felt chicken”)—and her brave return to the sea results in her inadvertently inventing a new trick. Cole’s inky blue sea, with its dramatic swells, adds to the story’s tension and makes Chick’s victory all the sweeter. Readers faced with trying something new should identify with this heroine—and maybe even start asking parents about surfing lessons. Ages 3–7. Agent: Kendra Marcus, BookStop Literary. (May)
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