cover image Chickens! Chickens!

Chickens! Chickens!

Barbara Ann Porte. Orchard Books (NY), $14.95 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-531-06877-9

Porte (When Grandma Almost Fell off the Mountain) and debut illustrator Henry team up for a high-spirited tale about a humble country artist whose unvarying subject is chickens. At home, people see so many chickens that they're not inclined to buy pictures of still more. He tries his fortune in the city, but continues to fill his paintings with fowl-chickens on elevators, chickens in taxicabs-and still finds no buyers. His lucky break comes when he meets and marries the owner of an art supplies store. Back on his farm, she is canny enough to pitch his chickens as ``country style'' art, and the painter becomes as successful in work as he is in love. Porte's energetic, conversational telling captures the simultaneous whimsy and force of the painter's singlemindedness (``Chickens, chickens, nothing but chickens''). At the same time she offers unstated lessons about the value of persistence as well as some deliciously funny moments (``Genuine folk art,'' cry the urbanities who once turned a blind eye to the poultry painter's oeuvre). Best of all are Henry's paintings, ranging from primitive street scenes with a multitude of shops, vehicles and pedestrians to innumerable silhouetted chickens in every posture and hue. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)