Argus

( 1 )

Overview

From the author of the best-selling Library Lion comes a funny, heartfelt new picture book about embracing the unusual, green scales and all.

Sally’s class is doing a science project, and Mrs. Henshaw is handing out eggs for hatching. "Mine looks different," says Sally. When Sally’s egg cracks, what emerges is something green and scaly with big yellow eyes. Argus isn’t like the other chicks: he isn’t small and fuzzy, and he doesn’t like seeds and bugs. He’d rather eat other ...

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Overview

From the author of the best-selling Library Lion comes a funny, heartfelt new picture book about embracing the unusual, green scales and all.

Sally’s class is doing a science project, and Mrs. Henshaw is handing out eggs for hatching. "Mine looks different," says Sally. When Sally’s egg cracks, what emerges is something green and scaly with big yellow eyes. Argus isn’t like the other chicks: he isn’t small and fuzzy, and he doesn’t like seeds and bugs. He’d rather eat other chicks (or children, as he grows even bigger). Watching the other kids playing with their identical chicks, Sally wonders, would she be better off without Argus? With sly humor and a subtle tug at the heartstrings, Michelle Knudsen hatches a story about learning not just to tolerate, but to love what is different, while Andréa Wesson’s endearing illustrations bring the tale to life with quirky details and offbeat charm.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sally's green, polka-dotted science project egg should have produced a fluffy chick like her classmates' eggs, but it cracks open to reveal a dragon instead; she names him Argus. She needs three pieces of paper for his growth chart, and while her classmates' chicks peck sweetly in the yard, Argus chews "a giant hole in the ground with his teeth." Yet when Argus disappears, Sally grows worried. Her peppery science teacher, Mrs. Henshaw, becomes an unexpected ally (her orange traffic cones and brisk "Don't be difficult" are the story's leitmotifs); in the end, Sally grows to love having a companion that's not like anyone else's. Wesson's (the Evangeline Mudd books) watercolors of the tubby Argus are wonderfully goofy, especially when he's galumphing incongruously through Sally's classroom ("He stopped trying to eat the other chicks. He started trying to eat the children instead"). Knudsen (Library Lion) never overplays her hand, but lets the story's laughs unfold naturally from the characters and circumstances. Her grasp of the life of the elementary school classroom is spot-on; this should become another favorite. Ages 4–7. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
From the moment she receives it from her teacher, Sally suspects there is something different about her "chick egg." She tries to bring Mrs. Henshaw's attention to the problem, but the teacher just tells her not to be "difficult," assuring her that "Some eggs are just different." Soon, little beaks and fluffy-feathered bodies are emerging from the other students' eggs. From Sally's? Something "green...scaly...[and with] big yellow eyes." Again, the teacher assures Sally: "Some chicks are just, uh, different." Indeed. While the other chicks like to eat seeds and beetles, Sally's chick Argus prefers chicks—and even children! (Fortunately, Mrs. Henshaw rescues everyone.) While the other chicks peck in the grass, Argus digs big holes. Sally feels isolated from her fellow classmates and rues the many differences, until the day Argus goes missing. She realizes just how much her unusual "chick" means to her. Child readers are sure to enjoy knowing more than the adults in this tale. Knudsen's restrained text and Wesson's delicate watercolor illustrations are the perfect combination for this humorous story. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—It's science project time in Mrs. Henshaw's class, and when all the eggs have been distributed for placement in the desktop incubators, Sally notices that hers is different. "Don't be difficult," responds her teacher. This mantra is uttered to children and adults alike whenever an objective observation threatens to alter her universe. All of the other chicks are yellow, fluffy, and diminutive; Sally's is green, scaly, and off all growth charts. Argus and Sally are banished to a remote corner of the playground, after the dragon's "pecking" causes dangerous craters. When he disappears, Sally "waited to feel relieved. She waited to feel happy." In the ensuing scenes, Knudsen's heroine grapples with her conscience, her emotions, and the notion of being different, emerging with a newfound peace and strength when the lost is found. Wesson's lanky, gawky watercolor and ink caricatures capture the fragility of childhood, and the understated telling provides space to grapple with one's own navigation through episodes of unenlightened authority. Children will relate to the drama while enjoying the humor found in both text and illustration. The compositions are full of the clutter and chaos one might expect with chicks and a dragon residing there. For another tale concerning the depth of youthful compassion and intelligence in contrast to their classroom leaders, try Paul Fleischman's The Dunderheads (Candlewick, 2009).—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
Kirkus Reviews
A class science project raising baby chicks becomes a memorable lesson in tolerance when one "chick" is decidedly different from the others.As Mrs. Henshaw distributes small, buff-colored chicken eggs, Sally notices that her large green egg with yellow spots "looks different." After her egg hatches into a scaly green critter with big yellow eyes, Sally's classmates respond with "Ewww." Calmly, Mrs. Henshaw replies: "Some chicks just, uh, look different." Sally names her "chick" Argus and finds him a handful, especially when he tries to eat the other chicks as well as her classmates. She wishes she had a cute fluffy chick until Argus disappears and she misses him—a lot. Precise, detailed ink-and-watercolor illustrations portray Argus as a wild and wily but endearing green dragon whose very presence in the classroom adds a surprising, hilarious dimension to the text, stretching the concept of "different" to the limit. Kudos to unflappable Mrs. Henshaw, Knudsen and Wesson. With his expressive ears, wings and tail, naughty Argus will capture attention and hearts.(Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781406331370
  • Publisher: Walker & Company
  • Publication date: 7/28/2011

Meet the Author

Michelle Knudsen is the author of the New York Times best-selling picture book Library Lion, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, as well as the middle-grade fantasy The Dragon of Trelian. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Andréa Wesson has illustrated several books for children, including two middle-grade novels about Evangeline Mudd by David Elliott. She lives in Potomac, Maryland.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 31, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    From the author of "Library Lion," another winner!

    Sally's chick is... different from the other kids' chicks in science class. Argus tries to eat the other chicks and Sally just wants a chick like everyone else! But when Argus disappears, what will Sally do?

    This story celebrating differences is poignant and touching. My four-year-old daughter wanted to read this book every night for a week. Highly recommended!

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