cover image Gladys the Magic Chicken

Gladys the Magic Chicken

Adam Rubin, illus. by Adam Rex. Putnam, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-0-593-32560-5

Gladys isn’t really magic—she’s just an ordinary chicken with orange feathers, a bright pink comb, startled eyes, and a tendency to “ploop” out an egg at opportune moments. But back in “Ancient Times”—a phrase seemingly portrayed in a Grecian font—those who find themselves in Gladys’s company also seem to find their wishes fulfilled: from a gawky, tan-skinned shepherd who grows into a muscled hunk, to a cloistered brown-skinned princess who yearns for adventure and ends up on a pirate ship. So they celebrate Gladys’s seeming powers in story and song (“Glaaaaadys the Maaaaagic Chickkkkcken,/ Abra-cock-a-doodle-dee-doo!”), and the myth grows, while the oblivious chicken hunts for her next worm. Rubin (High Five) and Rex (On Account of the Gum) fracture mythology left and right, with a performance-worthy, aside-heavy text and comically dramatic digital cartooning. Though the scrolls and temples and toga-wearing sometimes mix questionably with stereotypical portrayals in pursuit of “Ancient Times,” Gladys’s feathered manifestation of that very human desire to “see magic in the world” is nothing to cluck at. Ages 3–7. Author’s agent: Jennifer Joel, ICM Partners. Illustrator’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)