Mr. Watson’s Chickens by Jarrett Dapier, illustrated by Andrea Tsurumi (9781452177144)
Mr. Watson lives with Mr. Nelson in a big house in an even bigger city. In their little yard, they kept dogs, cats and three chickens. They started with a sensible number of chickens, but Mr. Watson’s collection quickly grew until they had 456 chickens! Their big house had chickens in every room. One of the chickens, Aunt Agnes, even wrote a song that added to the chaos and noise. She sang it all the time. Finally, Mr. Nelson had had enough and threatened to move out to the chicken coop in the yard if nothing was done. The two of them took the chickens to the county fair to get rid of them. But after an accident sets all of the chickens free, they are forced to gather them all up again. Luckily, their accident proves to be exactly the solution to the chickens.
This picture book shares rollicking rhythms and repetition along with a skillfully told story. Dapier leans into the full chaos of so many chickens. It’s the song that Aunt Agnes writes that really proves to be too much, though young listeners will love it. There is a merriness to the entire book, where the chickens steal the story away from the gay couple who are struggling to adapt and figure out how to take control back from their feathered friends. The human couple caught in the frenzy are a wonderful example of how being gay can be an integral part of a story but not seen as an issue.
Tsurumi’s illustrations have a touch of vintage cartoons mixed with modern elements. She shows the wild world of the chickens with details that are great fun to look at. There is even one double-page spread of the county fair where readers can search for the last chicken. She layers additional visual jokes and humor onto a story that is already great fun.
A funny feathery frantic tale of pets that get out of control. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy provided by Chronicle Books.