cover image Zinnia and Dot

Zinnia and Dot

Lisa Campbell Ernst. Viking Children's Books, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-83091-6

Haughty hens Zinnia and Dot really ruffle each other's feathers. Each proclaims herself the most beautiful hen in the coop and insists that her own nest of eggs is the most exquisite. When a hungry and mischievous weasel disrupts the coop, leaving only a solitary egg in his wake, Zinnia and Dot must put their cackling aside and decide what is best for their offspring. Despite the somewhat adult tone and situation of Ernst's ( Ginger Jumps ; When Bluebell Sang ) text, children will enjoy the action scenes and the bickering biddies, and may benefit from the messages about friendship and problem-solving. Younger readers may also be comforted by the portrayal of the lucky chick who receives love from two mothers. Ernst's warm, shadowy palette creates the feeling of being inside a chicken coop. Her characteristic plump figures with simple black silhouettes have a commanding presence in the form of Zinnia and Dot--true to their personalities, they often seem to be fighting for space on the page. Ages 3-8. (Aug.)