cover image Too Many Chickens!

Too Many Chickens!

Paulette Bourgeois. Little Brown and Company, $12.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-316-10358-9

This humorous account of an elementary school's misadventures in animal husbandry goes beyond the average presentation of farm animals in children's books. The children in Mrs. Kerr's class learn the true meaning of ``farm fresh'' when Farmer Berry deposits 12 smelly eggs in the incubator. Finally ``the eggs opened, one by one,'' but the children's delight turns to dismay as they wait for Farmer Berry to return: the chicks are rapidly growing into unruly, odorous hens. When Farmer Berry sees how healthy the chickens are, she brings some bunnies and a goat for the class, and what was once a pleasant class experiment turns into a nightmare. The animals move on to a home in the country--and Mrs. Kerr's youngsters move on to experiments in yet another field. Successfully evoking sight, sound and smell, Bourgeois's ( Grandma's Secret ) story is enhanced by such vivid descriptions as ``chicks . . . the color of sweet butter and as soft as cotton balls.'' In his debut picture book, Slavin's expressive characters cavort in colorful chalk drawings against textured backgrounds--a refreshing illustrative technique. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)