Wednesday, July 02, 2008

review: Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why Did The Chicken Cross the Road? written and illustrated by various. Dial, 2006 (0-8037-3094-2) $16.99

Fourteen children's illustrators put their minds to an age-old question and came up with some hysterical possible answers. Chris Sheban's chicken unfortunately missed a catch, breaking a window. Marla Frazee's runs from a wet coop to a sunny palatial one, thinking, "duh." Harry Bliss' chicken is on the run from the mutated zombie chickens from Mars! Only Mo Willem's chicken--obviously a close relative of his pigeon--sticks to the story, telling the hostile cops that are interrogating it, "I just did it to get to the other side! Honest!" Not all of the artists went for humor--Jerry Pinkney's chicken is on the way to a cozy, pastoral picnic and Mary Grandpre's walks into a surreal landscape--but the book as a whole is extremely funny, as well as delightful to peruse. An extra spread at the end describes why each of the artists crossed the road and gives short listings of their other books, for further reading. This is a great choice for beginning or reluctant readers. * (5 & up)

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