cover image CLUCK O'CLOCK


Kes Gray, , illus. by Mary McQuillan. . Holiday, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-8234-1809-1

The duo previously paired for Our Twitchy teams up again for this picture-book look at a day in the life of some plucky hens and their farmyard friends. From sunrise at "4 o'cluck" to bedtime and henhouse lockup at 7 o'cluck at night, Freda, Faye and the rest of the feathered gang fill the hours with typical chicken pursuits. Hunting for worms, flapping in a dust bath and visiting the blackbird named Jane, who lives down the lane, are all part of the fun. And things never quite settle down, even as midnight, and a bit of suspense, approach. Kids will no doubt enjoy this lighthearted, behind-the-scenes peek at a traditional family-run farm. Gray's clever rhyming couplets bounce right along as they conjure breezy barnyard scenarios. In her cross-hatched, textured paintings, McQuillan blends inviting views of sunny blue sky and verdant pasture. Her memorable cast of hens, decked out in a quirky palette of chipper colors and accents (stripes, hearts, squiggles), along with Colin the rooster, give readers something to crow about. Ages 4-8. (Mar.)