cover image Prairie Chicken Little

Prairie Chicken Little

Jackie Mims Hopkins, illus. by Henry Cole. Peachtree, $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-56145-694-9

Hopkins gives this story of miscommunication and false alarm a Southwestern spin, much as she did in The Three Armadillies Tuff and The Horned Toad Prince. The narrative uses internal rhyming and several dropped g’s to create a jaunty cadence, as Mary McBlicken (the eponymous prairie chicken) spreads her panic after she hears “a rumblin’ and a grumblin’ and a tumblin’.” She dashes “lickety-splickety” to tell each of her animal pals (including Jeffrey Snog the prairie dog, Beau Grabbit the jack rabbit, and June Spark the meadowlark) that a “stampede’s a comin’!” Each responds, “How do you know that this is so?” The repetition invites chiming in from young readers, who will also find plenty to chuckle at in Cole’s (Unspoken) bustling watercolor, ink, and colored-pencil illustrations, which convey the animals’ overblown fright with comedic bravado. Things get a bit convoluted as the story reaches its climax, when “Slim Brody the sly coyote” tries to lead the animals astray, but the book remains a lively take on this familiar tale. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)