Perfect Picture Book Friday: Interrupting Chicken

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I’ve got twin toddlers who don’t speak yet, but they sure manage to make a lot of noise anyway. And reading books with them together is downright impossible since they haven’t figured out the art of sharing. It always goes down like this: two boys, one on each knee, each with a different book, Mama reading one line over here, one line over there, “Ooh, look at the birdie,” “Yes, that’s the moon!” Dizzying!

They also haven’t learned patience. Pages are just for flipping, so our stories go from page 1 to 14 to 5 to back cover to floor. I’m told they will figure everything out and settle down eventually, but I’m pretty sure the elusive “snuggly bedtime story” scenario isn’t in our future. Sigh.

But at least I’m not alone…it appears the same thing happens in the animal kingdom. That’s right, in dens and caves and coops all over the world, little chatterboxes are driving their parents to distraction at bedtime–and the delightful David Ezra Stein is here to tell us one such story.

The Goods

Interrupting Chicken

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

Written/Illustrated by: David Ezra Stein
Publisher: Candlewick (August 2010)
Awards: 2011 Caldecott Honor Book
Genre: Picture Book/Fiction
Ages: 4+
Themes/Topics: Animals, Fairy Tales, Good Manners, Family, Reading, Bedtime

Opening and Brief Synopsis:
It was bedtime for the little red chicken.
“Okay, my little chicken,” said Papa. “Are you ready to go to sleep?”
“Yes, Papa! But you forgot something.”
“What’s that?” asked Papa.
“A bedtime story!”
“All right,” said Papa. “I’ll read one of your favorites. And of course you are not going to interrupt the story tonight, are you?”
“Oh no, Papa! I’ll be good.”

Papa rooster just wants to read little red Chicken a fairy tale before bed…but Chicken is a little too hyper and a little too concerned about the fate of the characters. One by one, she interrupts the stories before they barely begin, saving Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Chicken Little from impending doom before shouting an enthusiastic and definitive “The End!” The looming question is Will this talkative chicken ever stop interrupting and fall asleep?

Links to Resources:

  • Candlewick Press has put together a Story-Hour Kit (PDF) that includes engaging activities and printables for Interrupting Chicken that reinforce the major early literacy skills.

Why I Like This Book:  So many reasons! Audience: The book was clearly written with both parents and children in mind, so grown-ups will get just as big a kick out of it as their kiddies will. Illustrations: The vibrant, colorful illustrations of Papa and Chicken just exude warmth, and are cleverly juxtaposed with the classic fairy tales, which are drawn in a different style. Character: The concern the soft-hearted little red Chicken shows for the fairy tale characters is so endearing–and her enthusiasm for saving them so infectious–that it’s hard not to love her, and Papa’s exasperated but loving patience is wonderful to see. Humor: It’s hard to make me laugh out loud, but the line “Don’t panic! It’s just an acorn!” did just that–and quickly became my go-to phrase for high-drama situations. Sure, the story can be used to teach kids not to interrupt, but I don’t think that was Stein’s real purpose here; rather, he’s told an amusing story that both kids and parents can relate to and enjoy together.

Book Trailer:

Perfect Picture Book Fridays is a shared weekly event started by children’s author Susanna Leonard Hill. You can find the entire list of recommended picture books on the Perfect Picture Books page on her blog.