cover image Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

Jean Van Leeuwen, , illus. by David Gavril. . Abrams, $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-8326-7

A marvel of suspense and silliness, this convoluted story begins with a misunderstanding and ends with a satisfying sneeze. Minimal text and animated artwork seamlessly set up the animals' mistake through a series of closeups as cow, sheep and goose spread the word—“ 'Psssst! ' Cow told Sheep. 'Psssst! ' Sheep told Pig.” By the time goose tells all the chickens, chaos ensues as they squawk, “Mrs. Farmer has taken out the big pot! ” and “She's making chicken soup !” Van Leeuwen (the Oliver and Amanda books) builds anxiety as sniffly Little Chickie and the chickens run around the farm trying to avoid the “clomp clomp clomp ” of Mr. Farmer's boots. Slapstick humor abounds as Little Chickie spoils the chickens' hiding spots with a series of sneezes, and the dialogue adds tension. But just when things look their worst—“I've been looking everywhere for you,” says Mr. Farmer, catching Little Chickie in the flower bed—the Farmers offer him a hot bowl of (vegetable) soup to make him feel better. A kid-pleasing read-aloud. Ages 4–8. (May)