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Children's LiteratureWhen the four big chickens spot a wolf sneaking into their farmyard they run to the woods to hide. The silly chickens, fearing to jump over a ditch, "tutted, putted, and flutted" until they fall in. Afraid of the cows they spot, they squeak, squirm, and squeal until they bump the cows, who chase them over the fence. At each obstacle, the fearful four carry on until what they are scared of eventually happens. Then they manage to survive and move on. When they finally encounter a wolf in a cave their ruffles, puffles, and shuffles, shrieks, squeaks, and freaks, frighten him away instead. Smugly boasting of their "chicken power," "chicken brains," and "chicken guts" the "dirty, dusty, drippy, dazed, daring chickens" strut their way home. The reading is fun because of the nutty birds and the nifty language. Cole's watercolors deftly visualize the silly birds in their frilly outfits and single pair of green shoes. Of course, their actions are exaggerated and their expressions are overly emotional, but their final parade of "big, brave chickens" is right on target. 2006, Dutton Children's Books/Penguin, Ages 4 to 8.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz