Henrietta's older sisters are such expert teasers that they're able to convince her that she is really a chicken, obtained at birth from the local egg farm. "You grow feathers every night," says the oldest sister, "and we have to pluck them out before you wake up.... It's why we get more allowance than you do." But being a chicken may not be a terrible fate, as Henrietta discovers when she runs away to the farm in search of "her real family." The setting is idyllic, the farmer is nice ("Always got room for another free-ranger," he tells her), and she's readily accepted by her feathered relatives (they are marvelously imagined with googly eyes, dazed smiles and fork-like legs). Even when the older sisters 'fess up after being dispatched to the farm by their angry parents, Henrietta isn't sure she wants to believe them. "You would never call me a dumbhead, would you?" she coos to her new "little sister," a doting brown hen. Accused of exacting revenge by playing the fool, she replies, "I'm just a chicken. What do I know about trouble?" Amato's (Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Please Write in This Book) Seinfeldian storytelling is set off brilliantly by Durand's ( Beetle Boy) off-kilter, kid-like cartooning. Packed with funny details and small plots (the farmer's fat cat is apparently besotted with a chick), the art, like the story, delivers grade-AA comedy. Ages 4-up. (Feb.)
Henrietta has two older sisters, Kim and Clare and they love to tease Henrietta. One night Kim and Clare share a secret with Henrietta: she is really a chicken. At first Henrietta does not believe them but the evidence begins to pile up. The older sisters tell her that they have to pluck the feathers each night and they get the eggs for their breakfast from Henrietta. The next morning she checks the mirror and sees a girl but finds proof of her being a chickenfeathers and an egg. Her sisters appear to be right so Henrietta walks "home" to the nearby farm with the chickens. Kim and Clare find Henrietta with her "new" family, while the unhappy sisters try to explain that they were just teasing. Henrietta decides that she likes being a chicken. Clare might also be convinced to join Henrietta and the chickens. In cartoonlike illustrations, Henrietta's worry and relief are captured with the right amount of whimsy so preschoolers and older readers can enjoy the silliness. Henrietta ends up holding her own in spite of being the baby of the family and this cannot help but please children in similar situations. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
K-Gr 3- The dynamics of sibling relationships are played for laughs with enormous success in this picture book about three sisters. Henrietta is usually the brunt of her older sisters' teasing. When they trick her into believing that she is a chicken by planting an egg and two feathers in her bedroom, she runs away to a nearby farm to find her real family. Accepted by the farmer and the fowl as one of their own, Henrietta makes her sisters squirm when they are sent by their parents to bring her home. The wacky plot is made all the more comical by the straightforward, almost deadpan, delivery. Durand's colorful cartoon illustrations add to the silliness with the antics of the farmyard residents and the girls' expressions (the egglike appearance of their wide eyes continues the chicken theme). When using this book as a read-aloud, be sure to share Amato's dedication, which notes her inspiration for the story.-Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Maura Bresnahan, High Plain Elementary School, Andover, MA
Henrietta's two older sisters teasingly tell her that she's really a chicken, then leave an egg and feathers around her bed as "proof." More than half-convinced, Henrietta leaves home for the nearest farm and, finding the company in the henyard surprisingly convivial, refuses to leave when her busted sisters arrive to fetch her back. Marching about on similarly stubby legs, Henrietta and the hens mingle peaceably in Durand's cartoon illustrations, and create such an idyllic playscape that one sister joins in (the other marches off in disgust). In a finale that rings true, the two are last seen strutting triumphantly homeward with big smiles on their faces, as the remaining sister faces the parental music. It's the most satisfying turn of the tables since Chris Van Allsburg's similarly themed Probuditi! (2006). (Picture book. 6-8)