cover image Which Came First: The Chicken or the Friendship? (Starla Jean #1)

Which Came First: The Chicken or the Friendship? (Starla Jean #1)

Elana K. Arnold, illus. by A.N. Kang. Roaring Brook, $14.99 (96p) ISBN 978-1-250-30576-3

Cycling with her father—on a double bike that’s a fun touch—determined, curious Starla Jean encounters “the skinniest, ugliest chicken” she’s ever seen. Struck by a desire to bring it home, she decides to meet her father’s unthinking challenge of “if you can catch it, you can keep it,” and succeeds. Disappointingly, readers never see exactly how she accomplishes this, but the ensuing events in Arnold’s (An Ordinary Day) four-part chapter book series opener entertain. Among them, the chicken gains the name Opal Egg, teaches baby sister Willa her first word, and is given a diaper in an attempt at house training. Color illustrations by Kang (My Big Bad Monster) emphasize Starla Jean’s impish nature while evoking a slightly conventional ambiance for the white family. The girl has a face that’s all blue eyes; when she’s resolute, the tip of her tongue pokes out of her expressive mouth. Generous white space keeps the momentum rising as running text—a single thought, or sometimes even one word, including the chicken’s initial squawk—stretches across spreads. A smattering of “Fun Facts About Chickens” creates a humorously informative closing. Ages 4–7. [em]Author’s agent: Rubin Pfeffer, Rubin Pfeffer Content. Illustrator’s agent: Elena Giovinazzo, Pippin Properties. (Jan.) [/em]