Chicken Said "Cluck!"

Chicken Said, "Cluck!" by Judyann Ackerman Grant, pictures by Sue Truesdell.

I rarely review very easy readers because they lack a good story so often.  This is the exception.  Two children set out to grow pumpkins.  They try to shoo the chicken away, but it stays nearby scratching the dirt.  The children water and weed and then watch their pumpkins grown, all with the chicken clucking and scratching around them.  The chicken is useless until the day the grasshoppers come. 

With lots of repeating words to get children started reading on their own, this book manages to have rhythm, a limited vocabulary and a funny story.  Truesdell’s illustrations are quirky and also fun, adding the lively feel of the book.

Highly recommended as one of only a few early readers with story and style.  Appropriate for 3-5 year olds.

Tough Chicks

Tough Chicks by Cece Meng, illustrated by Melissa Suber

From the minute they hatch, Penny, Polly and Molly are chicks of a different feather.  They wrestle worms, race bugs, and dive for flies.  And they move at a fast pace with a "Peep, peep, zoom, zip, cheep."  All of the farm animals beg mother hen to make her chicks behave and be good.  But mother hen knows that her chicks are good.  Even the farmer gets upset when he finds the chicks under the hood of his tractor.  The animals on the farm put together an educational program for the chicks to help them be more normal, but with each lesson the chicks look at things from a completely different angle.  When a runaway tractor heads for the henhouse, the chicks just might be more useful than expected!

Happily targeting the role of cute young girls in a family and society, this book skewers the social norm with a playful spirit.  These three chicks are just like many girls who enjoy action, motors and little danger and refuse to move at a sedate, ladylike pace.  Meng’s text is just as lively as the chicks themselves, zooming along at a great pace.  Suber’s art is equally lively with crotchety pigs, perturbed fowl, and goggle-eyed sheep. 

Read this one last in a story time, which is the greatest compliment a book can ever have!  This shouldn’t be saved for those chicken story times, make sure you use it as one of those rainy-day books that you pull out to brighten things up.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.