My Perfect Picture Book Friday (PPBF) review today is Interrupting Chicken, a story that, in my opinion, is beyond hysterical. Seriously. If you’re craving a belly laugh, this book delivers!
But first… a little story from my own life to tie into today’s picture book review.
About eight years ago when I took my first serious step toward becoming a writer, I enrolled in a course at The Institute of Children’s Literature. My instructor offered valuable critiques on each of my monthly assignments, and I diligently took her suggestions to heart. The story I worked on was a middle grade, adventure novel. I had painstakingly created my main character to the point where part of me believed he existed. I knew my way blindfolded around his home. I could hear his thoughts. I could anticipate his reactions to any situation. Over the course of writing his story, he had become a close friend. (Anyone who has dedicated a fair stretch time to writing a book of fiction will relate.)
I awoke early to write. I tumbled into bed late, sad not to be conscious enough to take my character into the next chapter of his perilous adventure. At year’s end, I completed my manuscript and sent it to my instructor, ready to read her glowing review.
“I can tell from reading your story,” she said, “that you care greatly about your main character. In scenes when tension rises and danger nears, you protect him from harm.”
“Wait!” I scowled at her letter. “You’re making it sound like it’s something awful. If I don’t protect my main character, something might happen to him. He might get hurt!” (I’ll wait until you’ve stopped laughing.)
“Hurt him,” my instructor ordered. Nobody will spend a dime on your book if nothing happens. Put your main character at risk. Have the tree branch he’s sitting on break! Then, figure how to keep him alive on the way down. Just don’t kill him.”
“EXCUSE ME???” I said, still scowling at her letter. “But my main character is someone I created. He’s like my child. A good mother would never intentionally hurt her child.”
“Hurt him,” she said.
I returned to my computer. I scrolled to the first horrific encounter. With shaking hands, I dragged my main character out of the protective shadows and into harm’s way. I ducked when he ducked. I grimaced when pain inflicted his trembling body. He bled. I cried.
Enter my husband, home from a hard day at the office. “What’s wrong, sweetheart? What’s with the tears?”
“I am a terrible person!” I sobbed, drenching my laptop. “I just sat here and let my main character get hurt. It’s my fault he’s sprawled out in agony at the bottom of page 32. I am a terrible, horrible, despicable person.”
My husband offered a hug and a tissue to dry my keyboard.
My instructor applauded me. “You can call yourself a writer now,” she said.
And now for the big reveal. What does my story have to do with today’s picture book review?
In Interrupting Chicken, Chicken’s father tries to read a bedtime story, but each time he reaches the point where something bad will befall the main character, Chicken interrupts to save the main character from harm and finish the story early with a happy ever after ending. (Sound familiar?)
Title – Interrupting Chicken
Written and illustrated by – David Ezra Stein
Published by – Candlewick Press – 2010
Suitable for ages – 3-8
Topics/Theme – keeping the peace and humor
It was bedtime for the little red chicken.
“Okay, my little chicken,” said Papa. “Are you ready to go to sleep?”
“Yes, Papa! But you forgot something.”
“What’s that?” asked Papa.
“A bedtime story!”
Amazon Review – View it HERE. Awarded a 2011 Caldecott Honor!
It’s time for the little red chicken’s bedtime story —and a reminder from Papa to try not to interrupt. But the chicken can’t help herself! Whether the tale is HANSEL AND GRETEL or LITTLE RED RIDING HOOD or even CHICKEN LITTLE, she jumps into the story to save its hapless characters from doing some dangerous or silly thing. Now it’s the little red chicken’s turn to tell a story, but will her yawning papa make it to the end without his own kind of interrupting? Energetically illustrated with glowing colors —and offering humorous story-within-a-story views —this all-too-familiar tale is sure to amuse (and hold the attention of ) spirited little chicks.
Find more “Perfect Picture Book Friday” reviews at Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog HERE.