cover image Chicken Chuck

Chicken Chuck

Bill Martin, Jr.. Winslowhouse International, $16.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-890817-31-2

One of Bill Martin's (Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?) lesser efforts, this incoherent tale features a rooster named Chuck who swallows a blue seed one day and sprouts a blue feather in the middle of his forehead. He proclaims himself the barnyard boss, but soon his flunkies spy a poster of a circus horse with two blue feathers on his head. A fact-finding junket to the circus ensues, with much mayhem when an allergic monkey yanks out Chuck's special plume then sends the animals home with a whole box of blue feathers--one for everyone. Chuck's one-upmanship (he wears two feathers) and his continued search for another blue seed at the book's end, however, muddy whatever message the authors are trying to send. It's even unclear why the animals would want a blue feather in the first place. Martin teams up with his brother, Bernard, for this overwrought story, and his usual wordplay goes missing. First-time illustrator Salerno's mixed media drawings with perkily scrawled outlines give a nod to '50s illustrations, but these are overshadowed by glittering foil overlays and blue type treatment wherever the phrases ""blue seed"" and ""blue feather"" appear. The glitzy cover hologram belies a dull tale. Ages 4-8. (Apr.)