Did you know…that Rapunzel features a bubbly blue elephant with exquisite blond braids? Now you do. Stein's art is rich, textured and varied…[
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise] features stories within stories. All with elephants. Lots and lots of elephants, each of them, as advertised, surprising.
The New York Times Book Review - Michael Ian Black
In the eponymous Chicken’s post–Caldecott Honor book, she learns something new in school: “Every story has an elephant of surprise.” Papa—whose bright red crest and spade-shaped feet match Chicken’s—gently explains that it’s element, not elephant. To demonstrate, Papa reads “The Ugly Duckling.” The storybook open on Papa’s lap, Stein’s art transforms from the smudgy, warm tones of the cozy reading nook to a pastoral storybook scene rendered in pen and ink. As the Ugly Duckling is about to glimpse his reflection, a page turn introduces a blue elephant wearing wings: “Surprise! I’m an elephant!” The elephant returns in readings of “Rapunzel” (with thick braids) and “The Little Mermaid” (sporting a bikini). A final story—written by Papa and illustrated by Chicken—demonstrates that, despite Papa’s best efforts, the “elephant of surprise” is here to stay. Stein masterfully builds suspense with each imbedded story, for a gag that only gets more fun with each reveal. Ages 4–8. (Sept.)
Stein’s art is rich, textured and varied. Like ‘King Alice,’ this book features stories within stores. All with elephants. Lots and lots of elephants, each of them, as advertised, surprising.
—The New York Times Book Review Stein contrasts the richly colored, comfortable scenes at home with the pale, restrained traditional storybook illustrations, which are in turn jolted by the addition of the colorful, comical Elephant of Surprise and Chicken herself. Following the same basic structure as the original story, this sequel is fresh, funny, and satisfying in its own way. A treat for Interrupting Chicken fans. —Booklist (starred review) Stein masterfully builds suspense with each imbedded story, for a gag that only gets more fun with each reveal. —Publishers Weekly (starred review) The prose matches the vibrancy of the illustrations with humorous dialogue between Chicken and her patient Papa. Multiple award-winning author and illustrator Stein has created a noteworthy title for library shelves in addition to his already beloved collection of picture books. A terrific choice for one-on-one and small group sharing. —School Library Journal (starred review) Stein’s mixed-media illustrations allow the narrative styles to bounce back and forth between silly and serious, showing both wacky and cozy moments and honoring the warm, loving relationship between Chicken and her caregiver. Like its Caldecott Honor–winning predecessor Interrupting Chicken, this story centers on one extended gag; but many will enjoy giggling at it again and again, likely with a grownup of their own. —The Horn Book Little Chicken is back, and her metafictive editorial impulses are as strong as ever...fans of the two loving characters will be delighted to see them again. Unsurprisingly good. —Kirkus Reviews The father’s amused exasperation [in Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise], the child’s delight, the wordplay and the exuberant artwork all combine to make this picture book at once a celebration of love and language and an entertainment that will stand up to many, many bedtime readings. Some jokes never get old. —The Wall Street Journal
PreS-Gr 2—The precocious Chicken and her papa are back in this sequel to Interrupting Chicken. Chicken has learned at school about the element of surprise in storytelling. She interprets this as the elephant of surprise. When Papa reads classic tales aloud to Chicken, she interrupts to point out the "whoa!" moment. The "whoa!" moment always includes an elephant interjected into the story. Papa decides to tell his own story, without elephants. Despite his efforts, an elephant ends up in his story, too. A mixture of watercolor, crayon, marker, pen, white ink and tea magically come together to create delightfully uncommon illustrations. Vibrant and warm colors bring Chicken and Papa to life. Spreads from the storybooks Papa reads aloud, including text and classic illustrations, immerse readers in the tale. The story page illustrations also include Chicken's artistic additions, drawn onto the page, of an adorable blue elephant complete with chat bubbles. When Papa makes up his own story, Chicken illustrates it for him. These illustrations again depict the story pages with Chicken's childlike drawings in crayon. The prose matches the vibrancy of the illustrations with humorous dialogue between Chicken and her patient Papa. VERDICT Multiple award-winning author and illustrator Stein has created a noteworthy title for library shelves in addition to his already beloved collection of picture books. A terrific choice for one-on-one and small group sharing.— Mindy Hiatt, Salt Lake County Library Services
A laugh-out-loud follow-up to Stein's 2011 Caldecott honoree, Interrupting Chicken.Little Chicken is back, and her metafictive editorial impulses are as strong as ever. After school, she tells Papa, "my teacher told us every story has an elephant of surprise." Papa corrects her, replying, "She was talking about an element of surprise," but Chicken is unconvinced and is determined to find surprising elephants in the stories she reads for homework with Papa. And find them she does in the books-within-the-book: The Ugly Duckling, Rapunzel, and The Little Mermaid. As in Interrupting Chicken, Stein changes styles to illustrate Chicken's books and then visually interrupts those scenes—this time not just with Chicken jumping into the books, but with her imagined elephant of surprise, too. He ratchets up the humor by depicting the small, blue, adorable elephant in costume for each story—feathered like a swan, wearing long braids and a dirndl, and finally in a grass skirt and coconut bra. More indulgent than exasperated, Papa determines to tell Chicken a story without elephants, and she illustrates it. She, of course, also interrupts it with an elephant of surprise. While the interrupting conceit is a bit less straightforward in this book than its predecessor, fans of the two loving characters will be delighted to see them again.Unsurprisingly good. (Picture book. 4-8)