Chicken and Cat

Overview

Friendship has never been sweeter with this charming picture book by emerging artist Sara Varon.

Cat comes to the big city to stay with best friend, Chicken. The city is exciting (and there's so much to do!) but after a while Cat pines for the country with its trees and bright colors. Chicken takes Cat on fun adventures but Cat remains blue. How can Chicken make the city a brighter and happier place for Cat to live in? When Cat gets the idea to plant a garden in an empty lot, ...

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Overview

Friendship has never been sweeter with this charming picture book by emerging artist Sara Varon.

Cat comes to the big city to stay with best friend, Chicken. The city is exciting (and there's so much to do!) but after a while Cat pines for the country with its trees and bright colors. Chicken takes Cat on fun adventures but Cat remains blue. How can Chicken make the city a brighter and happier place for Cat to live in? When Cat gets the idea to plant a garden in an empty lot, the city blooms, and so does Chicken and Cat's friendship. With perfect doses of charm and simplicity, emerging artist Sara Varon captures the intricacies and sweetness of friendship.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this understated but poignant narrative sequence, whose only words appear on street signs and shops, an ochre-yellow cat comes to live with his friend, a New York City chicken. Cat disembarks at a putty-gray bus depot as Chicken waves hello, and they make their way down a sidewalk of taupe and beige. No words are spoken, but a meaningful dotted line tracks Cat's appraising gaze at some garbage cans, rats and a dog leashed to a No Parking sign. Later, Cat stares out of their walk-up apartment at a monochrome vista of buildings. Readers sense that, despite the animals' warm companionship (they buy ice-cream cones in Central Park and sun themselves at Coney Island), Cat feels alienated in this concrete habitat. Chicken remains something of a hip enigma. But when Chicken spies a daffodil in a hardware store window, the yellow and green flower reflected in Cat's pupils hints at his enchantment, and Chicken half-smiles. The two buy and plant seeds, creating a colorful garden to view from their window. Comic book artist Varon (Sweater Weather), making her children's book debut, has a way with sweet details, such as Chicken's gentle good-night, Cat's stuffed animal collection and the feline's tail draped like a noodle over the side of his bed. Her quiet characters look equally kitschy and good-natured, and her earthy palette suits the city environment. People of all ages, perhaps especially in the five boroughs, can appreciate this charming account of roommates and community improvement. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Careful consideration of wordless books is always especially rewarding when the illustrator is extremely gifted. To convey dialogue and a complete story line with just a simple tilt of a head or a strategically placed eyeball dot is the genius of this illustrator. She demonstrates this very quickly as Cat arrives on a bus to visit Chicken (a nice little twist to the usual chicken farm). Chicken is a true city dweller with an apartment, who bikes to visit the park, and has the ability to negotiate the subway with the ease and expertise that only a real New Yorker develops. We see Chicken taking Cat on a tour through the local neighborhood, the lake in the park, the fountain, and the sights on the way home. All the while Cat is noticing the city environment with a jaundiced eye—street trash, rodents, and other negative aspects of the urban center. After this long day of sightseeing with Cat—in which we have been treated to lots of details and opportunities for discussion about how to treat a guest—Chicken helps Cat settle in the guest room. The station sign "to Coney Island" will reveal the location of the next day's outing, but the non-reader will easily understand that they are in an amusement park. I love the spread of them sun bathing on the beach. On the return trip, we become aware that Cat is exhibiting signs of melancholy until a hardware store with live plants comes into view. Chicken immediately leads Cat inside to buy seeds and plants. They turn the empty lot across the street from Chicken's apartment building into a blooming paradise. Cat and Chicken are very satisfied with their work and the last scene shows them looking out of the window with elated smiles. Thecolors are bright, the lines are deceptively simple, and the message is subtle. Every time a young one "reads" this story there will be new material added to the "reading." For those who already read, this would serve as an excellent writing assignment. Keep an eye peeled for all of the interesting animal creatures that inhabit this keeper. Altogether extremely satisfactory. 2006, Scholastic, Ages 3 to 8.
—Sheilah Egan
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-In this wordless story, bold, full-bleed cartoon illustrations are amiably cluttered, well-suited to the theme of a visit to the city. Cat is alternately puzzled, saddened, and delighted by all that he sees upon arriving in New York: noisy taxis, overflowing garbage, Central Park, and Coney Island. His bliss as he basks at the beach or gazes into the park's lake is infectious. But his unease is equally affecting: Cat wants more from his friend's drab city world. Varon is sensitive, funny, and skillful as she contrasts the colorful open spaces that Cat enjoys with the muted, confined hubbub where the scuffle of rats and cockroaches competes with honking traffic. It's no wonder that Cat's expression is subdued when the friends return, after an excursion, to Chicken's apartment. The "eureka!" moment as he recognizes a solution is a pleasure to behold. This book has a funny, big-eyed sweetness, and is packed with details that kids will relish discovering in successive readings.-Susan Weitz, formerly at Spencer-Van Etten School District, Spencer, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Artfully using color more than faces to show feeling, Varon debuts with a wordless, very simply drawn tale of a New York City chicken finding a way to make a feline visitor from the country more at home. Stepping down from the bus, Cat's first impressions of the big city come from rats and roaches, dogs, garbage and, most of all, the dull beige tones of streets and buildings all around. Though Chicken takes Cat to Central Park, and even out to Coney Island's beaches and boats, nothing lifts the mood-until, that is, Chicken and Cat buy flower and vegetable seeds to turn the empty lot visible from Cat's window into a garden. The lifting spirits are signaled by subtle changes of expression and small floral explosions of color, but it won't escape young viewers sensitive to such visual cues. A fine, deceptively simple-looking start. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439634069
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/1/2006
  • Pages: 40
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.10 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Sara Varon is a comics artist, printmaker, and illustrator. She is from Chicago, but currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, where she likes to ride her bike, see movies, and pet dogs.

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