cover image Wee Little Chick

Wee Little Chick

Lauren Thompson, , illus. by John Butler. . Simon & Schuster, $14.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-4169-3468-4

To the other animals in the barnyard, the most remarkable thing about the eponymous heroine—“the littlest little” chick—is her diminutiveness. “ 'My, you’re so tiny!’ bleat[s] the nanny goat tall.” But there’s a lot more to Wee Little Chick than her size. She [despite the “he” on the flap copy] can climb the highest of all her siblings, she has the loudest peep, and despite her “tiny little legs” she runs “the fastest of them all!” Butler (A Mama for Owen ), working in his signature cuddly representational style, communicates that there’s something special about his protagonist without anthropomorphizing her (aside from a glimmer of smile): those bold black eyes convey that this chick has the poultry version of fire in the belly. Even more intriguingly, neither the illustrator nor Thompson (the Little Quack series) turns this story into a typical narrative arc of condescension, envy, angst, struggle and triumph. Wee Little Chick is amazing from the start, and everyone seems most impressed by her achievements. This brisk, straightforward approach to a self-esteem message should resonate even with children who have no concerns about their place on the height charts—or in the pecking order. Ages 2-6. (Jan.)