2.5 2
by Mary Jane Auch, Herm Auch

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When Henrietta becomes the first chicken in her coop to learn how to read, she uses her skills to save her aunties from becoming chicken soup.


When Henrietta becomes the first chicken in her coop to learn how to read, she uses her skills to save her aunties from becoming chicken soup.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
According to PW, "The familiar feathered friends who premiered in Bantam of the Opera fly to new heights in this escape-from-the-chicken-factory tale with a winning moral." Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Reading can save your life! Henrietta's aunts—Morissa, Emily, Liz, Zoe, Golda, and Olive—are alive and clucking today, thanks to this chick's concentration on reading rather than egg-laying. Trucks transport fowl destined to become a variety of chicken soup blends while the fate of swine and bovine being hauled along the same road is sausage and hamburger. Henrietta's feathers are ruffled when she reads the Souper Soup Company sign (Saucy Sausage Company and Happy Hamburger Company) on the truck that is taking her aunts on a vacation-turned-beheading. She is off to a market to locate the cannery address from the soup label, translate the map's directions, decipher instructions on the Holding Room door, and scan the newspaper ads to secure a safe haven for her relatives. Herm and Mary Jane Auch have collaborated to create brightly colored and charming illustrations using oils and digital technology, set on white background and using a computer to generate the text font. Photos on the title page introduce Henrietta and the six aunties, and throughout the book, the feelings of joy, fear, dismay, and relief are captured in the facial expressions. Humor abounds, but young readers will be plucked away by overindulgence of puns, wordplays, and the author's viewpoint toward vegetarian and organic issues. Boys who know all about the parts of trucks will ask the whereabouts of the back bumper that Henrietta jumped onto as the truck rumbled down the road—all that appears is the bed. Henrietta keeps her beak in a book and models reading at its best. 2003, Holiday House,
— Barbara Troisi
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-A disappointing addition to Auch's collection of enjoyable stories featuring poultry with high aspirations. In Hen Lake (1995) and Bantam of the Opera (1997, both Holiday), the author successfully teamed a follow-your-dreams message with humorous storytelling, but in this tale about a self-taught hen, she runs afoul of her formula. When egg production is down, Henrietta's aunts think that the farmer is sending them on a well-deserved vacation, but the younger chicken's ability to read the truck's "Souper Soup" logo clues her in to their real destination. On her mission to save her relatives from the soup factory, Henrietta reads labels, maps, and signs, pausing along the way to warn truckloads of pigs and cows of their futures as sausages and hamburgers. After the rescue is complete, the heroine and her flock find refuge with a vegetarian organic farmer. By the end, the story's pro-reading emphasis is overwhelmed by its anti-meat slant, and ceaseless puns only underscore the macabre tone. Even if young readers understand the farmer's tasteless comments ("-she's a cream of a chicken") and the truck driver's replies ("No wonder you're wonton to keep her"), they are more likely to groan than chuckle. Auch's other protagonists were driven by the joy of self-expression; the sole motivation here is survival. The illustrations are colorful and expressive, but aren't enough to lighten the mood. Compared to the author's previous successes, this book simply isn't up to scratch.-Eve Ortega, Cypress Library, CA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
What do you call a chicken who saves her aunty chickens from the soup factory? That’s right, one "souper" chicken. At first it appears that young Henrietta’s reading habit gets her into trouble in the Auchs’s (The Princess and the Pizza, 2002, etc.) latest poultry parody. Henrietta reads anything she can get her wings on and neglects her egg-laying duties. But since her aunties aren’t laying many eggs either, their farmer schedules a "vacation" for them. Being the youngest of the bunch, Henrietta is kept behind and regretfully bids goodbye to her aunties, who think she’s being punished for all that silly reading. As the truck pulls away, Henrietta reads the back of it--"Souper Soup Company"--and realizes that her aunties are going on a one-way trip. Using her trusty reading skills, she finds the address to the soup company and manages to save some pigs and cows from a similar fate along the way. In a hilarious climax, the chickens end up at a vegetarian farm and Henrietta’s aunties finally understand the importance of reading. Though the writing is a bit heavy-handed and borderline preachy, the energy and humor can’t be ignored. The brightly colored collage-style illustrations demand attention--especially Henrietta’s big tortoise shell reading glasses. Reading teachers and vegetarians alike will appreciate the message and young readers will find lots to laugh about. (Picture book. 4-8)

Product Details

Holiday House, Inc.
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
8.15(w) x 11.00(h) x 0.15(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Mary Jane Auch and her husband Herm Auch are a husband and wife team of illustrators whose first picture book collaboration was The Princess and the Pizza. Mary Jane Auch is also known for her historical and humorous fiction for children and her hilarious poultry parody picture books. The Auchs live on a small farm near Rochester, New York. Visit to learn more.

In high school Herm Auch painted sets for school plays, drawings for the yearbook, and was commissioned to do a landscape painting for one of his father’s friends. While still in high school, Herm worked as an engraving apprentice for an offset printing company.

When it was time to go to college, Herm followed his teacher’s prophecy by enrolling as an illustration major at Rochester Institute of Technology, graduating with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. In the summers between his college years, he worked for an art agency where one of his assignments was illustrating a book. In his senior year at RIT, Herm started working at the Gannett Rochester Newspapers.

In 1966, he met MJ Springer, who soon became his wife. For a number of years, Herm had a weekly editorial cartoon called Herm Auch’s Rochester. In 1975 Herm and columnist Dick Dougherty were assigned to ride across the country on bicycles, writing and illustrating the Bike Centennial series. In their three month odyssey, the two newsmen found fascinating stories of real people from coast to coast. Herm served as the photographer and illustrator for the project.

Herm made his first venture into children's books by illustrating I Was A Third Grade Science Project, written by Mary Jane. After forty years as a newspaper graphic artist, Herm retired in 2000 to pursue a new career as a children’s book illustrator.

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Souperchicken 2.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ugh! Pass on this one! My daughter brought this home from her Pre-K library. We both were drawn in by the flashy artwork. Our family has a small flock of spoiled pet egg-laying chickens and I am sure that is why our dughter chose this book. The story has a pro-reading theme where a chicken saves her beloved chicken friends from slaughter by reading a map, the address of the slaughter house on a can of soup, and the sides of trucks. The pro-reading theme however is harshly overshadowed by a violent and scary vegetarian "Meat is Murder" message. The chicken warns her pig friends that they will be turned into sausage, and warns her cow friends that they will be hamburger. When she gets to her chicken friends, the slaughterhouse describes how a chicken is beheaded, plucked, andkilled etc. etc. to scare children into feeling that eating meat is wrong. My daughter asked questions like "Why are farmers so mean? Do we have to eat chickens?" She was filled with anxiety after reading this book. While I respect the authors pro-vegetarian message, she could have kept the gory details to a PETA rally and presented vegetarianism in a gentler, kinder way fro children. I will be asking the school to remove this one from the Pre-K library, it's too scary for younger kids.
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a cute story and had the students laughing out loud. Plus there is a nice lesson on the importance of reading!!