One Little Chicken by Elka Weber, illustrated by Elisa Kleven
When Leora finds a chicken has wandered into their house, her mother reminds her that finders aren’t keepers. When her father returns from work, he agrees. But it is their duty to take care of the chicken until its rightful owners claim it. So, they build a chicken coop. When the hen lays eggs, they do not eat them but the eggs hatch into chicks. Soon there are chicks everywhere. So they take them to market and sell them for coins that they use to purchase a little goat. They milk the goat, turn the milk into cheese, but again do not eat it, because it is not their cheese. They sell the cheese for coins and buy another goat. Soon they have a family of goats who are often causing mischief, creating odors, and wreaking havoc. Finally, Leora’s mother has had enough and runs off down the road with the goats chasing after her. And who do you think she meets on the road?
This is the retelling of a story from the Talmud and retains the feel of a classic story. The story is not only about “finders aren’t keepers” but also speaks to the responsibility of community to care for one another. Weber’s writing incorporates small details that add to the depth of the story. For example, when Leora and her father are building the chicken coop: “Sawdust flew, wood shavings scattered, nails bent.” It reads aloud with a lovely rhythm and ease.
Kleven’s illustrations are done in mixed-media collage using watercolors, ink, pastels and colored pencils. They have a detail that is very engaging. Some of the panels are framed in flowing flowers, others have interesting textures, and all have a warmth that is welcoming.
A great addition to units on cooperation or community, this book will also be a good pick for chicken story times. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from copy received from Tricycle Press.
Also reviewed by Journey of a Bookseller.