cover image A Hen for Izzy Pippik

A Hen for Izzy Pippik

Aubrey Davis, illus. by Marie Lafrance. Kids Can, $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-55453-243-8

“Times were tough,” writes Davis in his opening to this sharp-witted tale drawn from Jewish and Islamic sources. But when little Shaina comes across a beautiful chicken whose crate has apparently fallen off a truck, the girl doesn’t think poached eggs and fricassee, as her Grandpa and Mama do. Cut from the same cloth as True Grit’s Mattie Ross and bearing a comically striking resemblance to the hen, Shaina stubbornly believes she must protect the bird and its offspring until the putative owner, Izzy Pippik (the name on the busted crate) returns. Readers probably won’t doubt that Shaina will triumph, but Davis (Kishka for Koppel) and Lafrance (The Firehouse Light) don’t make life easy for their heroine; yes, Shaina stands her ground against a grumpy, impoverished town overrun with potential chicken dinners, but when one of her neighbors calls her a “hard-headed nuisance,” it’s a fair assessment. Lafrance deserves a special shout-out for her work—she proves once again that she’s a rare talent who can combine naïf rendering with a highly sophisticated and consistently inventive sense of composition. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)