Review: Can Hens Give Milk? by Joan Betty Stuchner

can hens give milk

Can Hens Give Milk? by Joan Betty Stuchner, illustrated by Joe Weissmann

Shlomo and Riva live on a farm where they have five children, twelve hens and one rooster.  Rivka wishes that they had a cow to give the family milk and cheese.  That night, Shlomo had a dream that showed him what they could do.  Cows eat grass and give milk, so he reasoned that if the hens were fed grass, they would give milk too.  But the hens refused to eat the grass.  One of the daughters, Tova, came up with the idea of rolling the grass into pellets that look like the grain that the hens usually eat.  But even then, the hens would not eat the grass.  There was only one thing to do, and that was to force the hens to each eat one pellet of grass.  The family then left them to lay eggs and give milk overnight.  What do you think happened next?  All I will say is that in the end, the family had eggs AND milk.  But how?

This story of a fool and his family is written with great humor.  Children will immediately recognize the nonsense of the logic that Shlomo and his family are using, so they will enjoy seeing the story play out.  There is plenty of opportunity for laughter as new solutions are generated and then also proven to not work.  It’s a story that will have you grinning just because of the silliness of the entire book.

Weissman’s art is bright and silly as well, reveling in the humor of the text.  The dreams of milk and cheese are brought to life as are the hiccupping and indignant hens. 

A silly book that will lend a lot of laughter to a unit or storytime on food, this book reads aloud well.  Appropriate for ages 4-7.

Reviewed from library copy.

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Review: Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker

clementine and the family meeting

Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Marla Frazee

This is the fifth book in the wonderful Clementine series.  In this book, Clementine is very worried because the Family Meeting sign is hung up at home.  She just knows that she has done something wrong again.  So she goes out of her way to demonstrate how kind she is to her little brother, how neat she can be, and how she eats healthy foods.  Clementine is surprised to find out that none of those things are on the agenda, instead their family will have a new addition.  And it’s not the gorilla that Clementine has been asking for.  It’s a new baby!  Clementine knows how she feels about that.  She is not happy at all.  How in the world will their family ever be able to change from the perfection of four people into the odd number of five?

Pennypacker writes Clementine with such a surety and steadiness that readers who have enjoyed the previous books will immediately feel at home between the covers.  Clementine’s family may be changing in numbers, but readers who enjoy the deft parenting, the clever comments, and Clementine herself will be thrilled to know that those things have not changed at all.  In this book, Clementine’s relationship with her younger brother is shown as one of the growth points.  She continues to call him by vegetable names, but their relationship changes and matures too.

Frazee continues to depict a warm and wonderful family that embraces the quirkiness of one another.  From the springing curls on Clementine’s head to the ferocious scowl she gets on her face, Clementine is a vivacious and wonderful character.  My favorite image from the book is where Clementine’s mother and brother are asleep together on the couch with all of his trucks parked around them.  Perfection.

Another stellar addition to the Clementine series.  This is one series that you will want to read in its entirety, because everyone needs a Clementine in their lives.  Appropriate for ages 7-10.

Reviewed from library copy.

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