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.
  • Click here to download a PDF with discussion questions, curricular activities, and links to further study, provided by the Illinois School Library Media Association.

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.

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  1. Chicken stories are always my favorties, and this sounds like it is fab too.

    I am so relieved my kids have just started settling down at night to a story. I was beginning to think I’d have to get rid of some books – shock horror!

    Thanks for sharing this fun book Renee.

  2. Hah, I took this one out with Ish from the school library and was undecided this week, glad I didn’t double up with you, but I do find it hilarious.

    I must start using that ‘Don’t panic. It’s just an acorn!’ line. Ha!

  3. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a copy of this book for awhile and now I know why. Thanks for a great review, Renee. I hope you get the snuggly bedtime stories someday. You may have to consider separate readings for your twins! 🙂

  4. @ Catherine and Erik – Chickens rule!
    @ Joanna – it’s a great line to diffuse hot-headed situations, for sure 🙂
    @ Dana – Alas, I’ve kind of resigned myself to the idea of separate readings — but then there’s the detachment screaming when I re-deposit one twin and withdraw the other…
    @ Susanna – So it gets better, right? RIGHT?

  5. This book is so very much fun as a read aloud! It gets my youngest son giggling every single time! It does get easier than the toddler years, but reading aloud to my older boys is often me reading as they play legos, pretend with plastic toys, roll on the ground, throw a ball for the puppy…you get the idea. It may not be the snuggly reading time I always envisioned, but they are listening, even when it doesn’t look as if they are!

    1. @ Julie – It’s one of the first I bought, I just got a kick out of it!

      @ Heather – Oh, thank you for the words of comfort! They definitely like to snuggle with Mama and a book, but only when they are separate. And they’re right to do so — they deserve one-on-one time! 🙂

  6. I keep seeing this book everywhere I go. It must be very popular with kids. Loved you review. Don’t think chicken knows how to be quiet — she’s exploding with thoughts. Dad is very patient. Great trailer too. Nice selection.

  7. My son’s 2nd grade class read this and he brought it home. I couldn’t stop laughing as I read it — it describes him perfectly. He is *incapable* of not interrupting *every* sentence.
    It’s a great book.

  8. My son was just like your twins when we first started reading together! Luckily he has settled down now and I can (usually) get through a whole book with few interruptions. And we love this one too, by the way!

    1. @ Carol – It’s definitely worth a read!

      @ Stacy – Phew, so glad it’s not just me!

      @ Diana – Thank you for noticing! You always leave such lovely comments. 🙂

      @ Mary – Glad to know there’s hope for getting through a whole story. I know, I must be patient…

  9. I have one serious interrupter, she likes to do my hair to match those of the people in the book! I love that trailer, I think this would be a good buy for us.

  10. Renee, I have seen this book but had not read it. The story sounds awesome, and as a mother of three, I can tell you that the interrupting does eventually end. The best is when children hear a story that they love so many times that it’s memorized and they can “read it to you.” Great post.

    1. @ Lynn – Great, glad you came by. I’ve visited Redheaded Stepchild as well and really enjoyed it. I’ve got you on my feeder now!

      @ Tracy – Ooh, thanks for the words of encouragement. It always helps to hear from an experienced mom. I look forward to having my little guys read to me…even if I’m not in a hurry for them to grow up.

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