Featherless Chicken

Featherless Chicken

by Chih-Yuan Chen

Filled with bold illustrations and wry humor, this twist on the ugly duckling tale places a chicken in the lead role. The chicken has no feathers and he longs to play with the other beautiful chickens in the yard, but they turn him down, ridiculing him for his bare skin. When he discovers a creative camouflage for his paltry plumage,


Filled with bold illustrations and wry humor, this twist on the ugly duckling tale places a chicken in the lead role. The chicken has no feathers and he longs to play with the other beautiful chickens in the yard, but they turn him down, ridiculing him for his bare skin. When he discovers a creative camouflage for his paltry plumage, however, the other chickens allow him to join them on a boat ride, never expecting that a surprising accident will change the way they see themselves and the (formerly) featherless chicken.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Chen (Guji Guji) brings out an equally pleasingly ridiculous fable about differences. This time, the misfit character is a chicken with no feathers and a terrible allergy to pollen. Four fancy chickens, "the most beautiful" he's ever seen, scorn the bald fellow, then mistake him for an entirely new chicken after a strong wind leaves the hero plastered with leaves and trash. "I've never seen such a gorgeous chicken," says one of the in crowd, and they ask the trash-plastered chicken to go boating with them. When his allergies produce a powerful sneeze, the boat tips over, and the costumes of the other four fall off, revealing a secret they've been keeping, and their arrogance disappears with their finery into the depths of the lake. While the googly eyes and droopy wings of the chickens are classic cartoon fare, Chen creates outfits made of wildly imaginative flowers whose petals are butterfly wings, architectural flourishes and ordinary roman letters. The trash costume will produce the biggest guffaws: the featherless chicken finds himself adorned with a fork, a scrap of printed paper, a lovely ink curlicue, all topped off with a soup can hat. Chen never lets his moral lessons get in the way of a good time. Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Sheilah Egan
Having leapt happily from his shell, the newly hatched chicken is without a single feather—he is a featherless chicken. When the wind blows he is cold and his nose is so sensitive that he sneezes violently when the breeze carries pollen. The little chicken is lonely until he spots four of the most beautiful chickens he has ever seen. Now the reader will consider this pronouncement of beauty to be "in the eye of the beholder," since Chen deftly uses Latin alphabet letters for one of the bird's covering, fake feathers for another, wrapping paper for the third, and cut-out paper feathers for the fourth. Combining classical art techniques from the Far East with these goofy chickens and modernistic approaches creates a landscape of humor and beauty—and truth. The four chickens spurn our featherless friend's attempt to make friends; they pompously announce that they do not "play with featherless chickens." Vision blurred by tears of hurt, the featherless one ends up in a mud puddle and then the mischievous wind blows leaves, twigs, and other oddments to stick in the goop covering his body. A soup can adorns his head and he is simply miserable. Spotted by the "fabulous four," he is deemed beautiful in his own right and invited to join them for a boat ride. One of his famous sneezes provides the perfect denouement for this tale of self-confidence and acceptance. The force of the sneeze upsets the boat and unceremoniously dumps the quintet into the lake, washing away everyone's finery. They are truly all out of the same boat—they, too, are, indeed, featherless. Everyone laughs and marches off together, planning the next day's adventure. This subtle lesson will not be lost onyoung listeners and should be taken to heart by older readers. The eclectic, clever art deserves close observation and provides great pleasure for the observant.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-With the same gentle humor and sensitivity to children that she showed in Guji Guji (Kane/Miller, 2004), Chen introduces a young featherless chicken. Not only does this poor creature get cold when the wind blows, but he's also afflicted with miserable allergies. One day, he sees four beautifully feathered chickens on their way to go boating. He asks if he can join them, but they shun his unadorned looks. Then, thanks to a muddy puddle, bits of this and that, and a jaunty tin-can hat, he is transformed into a beautifully adorned fowl, and the others invite him to come along. During a flap about which chicken is the most handsome, the newly fancy fellow lets out a terrible sneeze, and the boat capsizes. The dunking leaves all five chickens featherless and frolicking together. The chickens' comic expressions and their colorful feathers are perfectly rendered in Chen's soft palate of earth tones and subtle splashes of color on thick, creamy paper. The text is set in a typewriterlike font that adds to the style and overall charm of this memorable outing.-Genevieve Gallagher, Murray Elementary School, Charlottesville, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A featherless chicken rejected by his fashionable fellows finds a way to puncture their vanity in this clumsy but well-meaning effort. Born naked and with allergies to boot, the chicken is sad when four others decked out in plumes, fancy headgear and, in one case, decorative letters and numbers, refuse to take him boating. Their attitude changes when he acquires finery of his own, becoming coated with leaves, papers and, rather oddly, a dinner fork after falling into some sticky mud. He changes again when his sneeze dumps them all in the water, and they emerge as bare as he. Laughing together, they strut off into the forest, planning the next day's outing. The uneven typewriter font chosen for the text gives the pages an amateurish look, and children will be confused by Chen's spattery, scribbly paintings, as his chickens are all visibly well-feathered. Still, the author allows readers to figure out the point for themselves, rather than hammering them over the head with it. (Picture book. 6-8)

Product Details

Heryin Books, Inc.
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 11.75(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range:
5 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Chih-Yuan Chen is an illustrator of children's stories and the author of The Best Christmas Ever; Guji Guji (a New York Times Top 10 children's bestseller); and On My Way to Buy Eggs (named a Best Children's Book by Publishers Weekly).

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