cover image Chicken in Space

Chicken in Space

Adam Lehrhaupt, illus. by Shahar Kober. Harper, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-236412-8

Zoey, a headstrong and imaginative chicken with an aviator cap, persuades a pig named Sam to fly into space with her on a “ship” that’s really a basket tied to a bunch of helium balloons. The basket actually gains some altitude, and the view Kober (The Flying Hand of Marco B.) provides—a Grant Wood–esque landscape at sunset—really is magical; the story itself seems to hover for a moment to let readers take it in. Close encounters with a baseball (“An asteroid!” says Zoey in full pretend-play mode), a kite (“A comet”), and a flock of birds (“Alien attack ships”) send the basket back to Earth. Back at the barnyard, Sam recounts the adventure to their fellow barnyard animals and gives Zoey all the credit, noting that she “always finds a way.” Lehrhaupt’s (Please, Open This Book!) nonjudgmental tone is a breath of fresh air, and while the ending is lackadaisical, it’s a pleasure to spend time with an intrepid character who gets to see her goofy dreams through. Ages 4–8. [em]Author’s agent: Alexandra Penfold, Upstart Crow Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Justin Rucker, Shannon Associates. (May) [/em]