cover image Chicken Talk

Chicken Talk

Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Jarrett J. Krosoczka. HarperCollins/Tegen, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-06-239864-2

A farmer and his family have 12 beloved chickens, among them seven hens named Joyce. The whole group listens avidly during readaloud time, and the hens “sometimes sat on the porch chairs and looked out over the meadow like elegant ladies.” Then a message appears in the dirt: “No more arugula.” Willie and Belle, the farmer’s children, ponder the mystery. “Only the chickens eat arugula,” Willie points out, and a hen named Trixie gives the kids a pointed look. Their parents, Otis and Abby, are quick to believe: “I thought Trixie liked arugula,” Abby says. The birds’ messages develop from there, with one request for “more stories about brave chickens” and a growing retinue of bystanders clamoring after eggs and chicken talk both. The story isn’t complete, though, until every chicken gets a voice of its own. Artwork by Krosoczka (Hey, Kiddo) uses softly sketched lines and gentle farmyard hues to provide a sense of the farm’s peace and the chickens’ cleverness. MacLachlan (My Father’s Words) offers droll dialogue, a bucolic setting, and a spirited defense of animals as distinct beings with unacknowledged powers of observation. Ages 4–8. [em](Jan.) [/em]