cover image Interrupting Chicken

Interrupting Chicken

David Ezra Stein, Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4168-9

Stein's earlier books did not foretell an ability to pull off broad comedy, but this father-and-daughter bedtime banter is all the better for being a surprise. A little red chicken, lying in bed in her pajamas, can't help slamming on the brakes when Papa's read-aloud stories get too tense: "Out jumped a little red chicken," she cuts in as Papa reads Hansel and Gretel, "and she said, ‘DON'T GO IN! SHE'S A WITCH!' So Hansel and Gretel didn't. THE END!" Stein's spreads are thickly and energetically worked, the colors intense, and the lighting and shadows dramatic. For Papa's bedtime stories, Stein (Leaves) shifts styles, inking each scene in spindly ink; when the chicken interrupts, she bursts onto the sepia pages in full color. And when, after cutting short three of Papa's stories, she starts in on a tale of her own, Stein switches again to preschooler crayon, as her sleepy father interrupts in his own way. The delivery is Catskill perfect; readers will fall hard for the antics of this hapless pair. Ages 4–8. (Aug.)