Chickenfriend (Penny S. Roth)

(Due to unforeseen technical difficulties, we were unable to post last night’s review. Sorry for the delay!)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Chickenfriend, written by Penny S. Roth and illustrated Alyssa Busse, a lesson in friendship.

There are ordinary chickens, and then there’s Chickenfriend. So named by his human best friend Josi, Chickenfriend is hard to miss: he has a bold personality, a crazy created crown of feathers, and most notably, he is absolutely devoted to Josi. He even runs to Josi for hugs. One day, three new chickens join Chickenfriend in the coop, and feathers begin to ruffle. Whenever Josi compliments Fancy’s lovely feathers, or Blueshell’s unique blue eggs, Chickenfriend suddenly feels upset in his tummy – could it be jealousy? And when he sees Josi giving one of his hugs to Cluckers, he positively loses his cool, throwing a tantrum that’s fit to bring the barn down. How can Chickenfriend learn how to deal with jealousy, and to share his friend?

Sweet and unique. Inspired by her daughter, Roth crafts a story that hits familiar notes but with fresh and personal characters. Chickenfriend is certainly striking in appearance and personality, and kids will enjoy following his antics. The illustrations are humorous, and while some spreads feel a little generic, others are delightfully quirky and memorable. There are also areas where the text could have benefitted from some edits, especially in the slowed-down and occasionally redundant second half. And it bears mentioning that Chickenfriend learns his lesson of friendship with the help of faith – God is mentioned twice, though no exact faith is specified. Otherwise, the length was fine, and JJ enjoyed it. Overall, there were some rocky areas, but this was a clever, warmly personal story with a hilariously distinct character, and we really liked it. Baby Bookworm approved.

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the author in exchange for an honest review.)

Tough Chicks (Cece Meng)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Tough Chicks, written by Cece Meng and illustrated by Melissa Suber, a wonderful allegory for choosing to be who you are instead of who people think you should be.

From the day Mama Hen hatches Penny, Polly and Molly, she can tell that they are different. They’re not content to fluff their feathers or peck quietly like chicks are supposed to do. Instead, they are filled with the urge to explore, learn, create and, yes, occasionally get into a bit of trouble. And while everyone on the farm insists that Mother Hen teach her daughters to be proper, “good” chicks, she insists that her girls are good – just different. And when Farmer Fred accidentally sends his broken tractor careening towards the barnyard, the tough chicks will have the opportunity to show everyone that being brave, intelligent and resourceful can often save the day.

Loved this one! Obviously, the story has a strong feminist message, using the double meaning of “chicks” to show how little (and big) girls are often expected to quiet, unobtrusive, and even meek. I especially loved how the three chicks show wonderfully well-rounded personalities: they’re not causing trouble by being cruel or disrespectful, instead being shown building, creating, experimenting, tinkering and learning (while still occasionally being a raucous just for the fun of it). The illustrations are great, playful and bright but full of personality, and the length is good too. JJ and I both really enjoyed this girl-power tale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type (Doreen Cronin)

Hello, everybody! Our book today is Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, a funny yet relevant barnyard tale of civil disobedience.

Farmer Brown has never seen such a thing, and never heard it either: cows that type. The cows have gotten their hooves on an old typewriter, and suddenly Farmer Brown is finding notes on the door of the barn, demanding better living conditions in exchange for their milk (the barn gets cold at night, and they’d like some heated blankets). When he refuses, the cows go on strike, with their fellow chilly barn-dwellers the chickens joining them in solidarity. Duck, being a neutral third party, agrees to act as intermediary as Farmer Btown and his livestock negotiate terms. At last, they come to an agreement… but now another animal has been inspired to make demands of their own!

What a fun book! On the surface, the story is straightforward silliness, pitting the newly vocal cows against the flabbergasted farmer with deadpan language and a repeating chorus of “Click, clack, moo.” Beyond that, however, it is a surprisingly accurate representation of how worker’s strikes operate, and how unfairly-treated parties can fight for their rights. The illustrations are very cute, full of barnyard animals for little readers to identify and subtle humor that fits the story’s feel. The length is perfect, and JJ had a lot of fun with this one. It’s easy to see why this one has become a modern classic, and it’s definitely Baby Bookworm approved!

Poultrygeist (Mary Jane and Herm Auch)

Halloween Week, Day 4: Hello, friends! Today, we read Poultrygeist by Mary Jane and Herm Auch, a funny story about two troublesome roosters being taught a lesson in manners.

Ralph and Rudy are roosters on the same farm who fight – often, and LOUDLY. The other animals don’t mind so much during the day, but Clarissa the cow and Sophie the sheep are sick of being woken throughout the night with their noisy crowing. Just before Halloween, however, it seems that the rowdy roosters have awoken a spooky ghost with their racket – the Poultrygeist!

This was a fun little Halloween barnyard story with a lesson about being respectful of others added in. The illustrations are colorful and cute, and while the length might be stretching it for some baby bookworms, JJ enjoyed it. Baby Bookworm approved!