cover image Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken

Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken

Kate DiCamillo, , illus. by Harry Bliss. . HarperCollins/Cotler, $17.99 (56pp) ISBN 978-0-06-075554-6

Newbery Medalist DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux ) joins forces with the formidably talented Bliss (Diary of a Worm ) for a series of ripping yarns about a chicken who just can't stay down on the farm. By the time the book reaches its fourth and final chapter (and that word is used more to evoke the book's swashbuckling scale than to indicate a preponderance of text), the indomitable Louise has seen it all and done it all, from escaping pirates on storm-tossed high seas to joining the circus—and she's been envisioned as a tasty dish by just about everyone. Not surprisingly, while Louise relishes her wanderlust, she also experiences Weltschmerz —here's the hen contemplating the circus: “Safe in a clown's wig, hidden beneath his hat, Louise thought of the henhouse and what a quiet, spectacularly lion-free place it was.” DiCamillo's brisk, comic narrative crackles with read-aloud savoriness, and her respect for Louise makes the book all the funnier. And where lesser artists might have packed lots of visual nudge-nudges, Bliss creates a thrilling sense of place and puts his wide-eyed heroine front and center. An enlarged format does justice to the details in the art—and to the grand sweep of the storytelling. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)