cover image Chicken in the Kitchen

Chicken in the Kitchen

Nnedi Okorafor, illus. by Mehrdokht Amini. Lantana (Lerner, dist.), $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-9113-7315-5

Okorafor (Akata Witch) brings readers to Nigeria where a girl named Anyaugo awakens in the middle of the night to find a giant chicken occupying the family’s kitchen. With a resplendent coat of feathers in eye-popping oranges, golds, and greens, the chicken is already making a mess, and Anyaugo worries that it might ruin the New Yam Festival that begins the next day: “Anyaugo couldn’t let the chicken ruin the yam dishes in the fridge!” With help from the Wood Wit, a mischievous wood spirit, Anyaugo realizes that the “chicken” is actually a masquerade spirit looking for a snack. Iranian-British illustrator Amini’s illustrations bring a rough-and-tumble energy to this nighttime adventure; while Anyaugo is working up the courage to confront the chicken, readers see the Wood Wit—essentially a floating head with broad lips and lanky arms—teasing and tangling with the enormous fowl. In addition to providing a boisterous story of things that go bump in the night, Okorafor includes just enough information about the New Yam Festival to make unfamiliar readers feel in the know. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)