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Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

4.6 3
by Tedd Arnold (Illustrator), Chris Raschka (Illustrator), Chris Sheban (Illustrator), Vladimir Radunsky (Illustrator), Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
We all know the joke. We've all told it. Kids love to tell it over and over and over again, with as many different punch lines as possible. And now we've found out that famous award-winning artists love to tell the joke too—and they have some wacky and downright hilarious ideas about why that chicken really did cross the road.

Mo Willems's chicken confesses


We all know the joke. We've all told it. Kids love to tell it over and over and over again, with as many different punch lines as possible. And now we've found out that famous award-winning artists love to tell the joke too—and they have some wacky and downright hilarious ideas about why that chicken really did cross the road.

Mo Willems's chicken confesses his motives to a police officer; David Shannon's chicken can drive a car; Marla Frazee's chicken is looking for a more luxurious coop; and Harry Bliss's chicken encounters aliens. And this is just the beginning. One thing is for sure—you won't cross this book without a good laugh!

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fourteen picture book creators try their hands on an age-old question in this intermittently funny compendium. Each participant faces the challenge in a full-bleed spread. Some take a wordless approach. Jerry Pinkney pictures an elaborate picnic; a ruffled hen in a bonnet crosses a country lane as a hare checks its pocketwatch and a squirrel and box turtle sip tea around a gingham tablecloth. Chris Sheban anthropomorphizes his chickens less quaintly: baseball-playing birds exchange a glance in regard to a freshly broken window and their escape route. Other artists pair a picture and punch line. Mo Willems, no stranger to birdy humor, imagines cops interrogating a sweaty hen ("I just did it to get to the other side! Honest!"). Harry Bliss demands that readers "Ask the mutated zombie chickens from Mars!" and shows drooling, bloodshot-eyed leghorns in pursuit of a live one. Lynn Munsinger's straightforward reply ("Because the light said `walk' ") headlines a commanding scene of city chickens shopping, rollerblading, flapping to work and cackling on cell phones. The best responses, like Munsinger's, include unpredictable details that invite lingering. Otherwise, this is a very fast read, notable more for its guest stars than their contributions (the assembled creators make light remarks in a "Why did the artist cross the road?" afterword, and the book includes a poster). Few of the entries lay an egg, but no one provides a definitive response except perhaps Chris Raschka's ink-wash sphinx, who intones, "You tell me." Ages 4-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz
Fourteen picture book artists offer, on individual two-page spreads, their distinctively different answers to the old joke title question. The illustrators include Marla Frazee, Mo Willems, Judy Schachner, Tedd Arnold, David Shannon, Jon Agee, Vladimir Radunsky, Jerry Pinkney, Chris Sheban, Harry Bliss, Mary Grandpre, Lynn Munsinger, David Catrow, and Chris Raschka. Some visual answers are almost self-evident; Frazee's chicken's thought is "duh" as she runs from storm-tossed chicken house to gaudy pavilion; Grandpre's enters an exotic, surreal garden; Munsinger's notes that the traffic signal says "walk." But Schachner's chicken isn't just "free range," she's "de-ranged," for reasons clear in the illustration; while Radunsky's tuxedo-ed fowl is on the way to a sister's wedding to Toad, of all people. Obviously, some of these will tickle only some readers, but all are a delightful visual treat. Given a nonsensical question, the artists were free to fantasize. Shannon puts his bird behind the wheel of a red convertible with a pig and cow for passengers; Raschka imagines an ignorant cubist sphinx. The final pages with quips and comments from the artists are a bonus, along with an invitation for readers to offer their own answers.
School Library Journal
Gr 1-4-Fourteen artists present their mostly visual answers to the age-old question in two-page illustrations done in various mediums and styles. Words are at a minimum; the pictures speak for themselves. Marla Frazee's solution is simple, showing a brown hen hurrying from a plain wooden coop pelted by rain to a colorful, palacelike haven surrounded by blue sky (a thought bubble reads: "duh"). In Mo Willems's scene, a nervous fowl responds to a grilling by angry police officers by swearing that she crossed "just-to get to the other side! Honest!" Meanwhile, the heat is on, as a cop prepares a barbecue in the background. Judy Schachner's plump black chicken that foolishly heads to a dinner date with two hungry foxes, "-wasn't just free-range-she was de-ranged!" Jerry Pinkney's familiar Little Red Hen goes over to attend a tea party with her friends, while Harry Bliss's cartoon critter runs away from "mutated zombie chickens from Mars!" An equally funny section entitled "Why Did the Artist Cross the Road?" provides the illustrators' responses along with brief lists of their works. It's not often that one title is filled with such talent and such child appeal. This book will have readers cackling with glee and crowing for more.-Carolyn Janssen, Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County, OH Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Fourteen artists, nearly all of them household names, offer answers to the classic title question. The punch lines are as varied as the visuals, with chickens fleeing threats such as dinosaurs (Jon Agee); "mutated zombie chickens from Mars" (Harry Bliss); running toward a more glamorous henhouse (Marla Frazee), or an enticing tangle of mysterious creatures and shapes (Mary GrandPr‚). Some are crossing because the light changed (Lynn Munsinger, David Shannon), a baseball went through a window (Chris Sheban) or a tasty treat beckons (Judy Schachner, Jerry Pinkney, David Catrow). Chris Raschka closes with a sphinx looking up at the viewer, murmuring, "You tell me," and all of the contributors' chickens march across a final spread with jokey answers to another query: "Why did the artist cross the road?" Evidently offered not to support a charity but just for fun (plus a little promotion), this gallery of clever pullet surprises will draw crows of delight. (Picture book. 5-8, adult)

Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
10.25(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.33(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

Born in Elmira, New York, Tedd grew up in a family of six with three brothers. His family lived on a farm in Pennsylvania for several years then returned to Elmira until Tedd was ten years old. His father's work then required that they move to Gainesville, Florida. There, Tedd's first art lessons in an abandoned dentist's office over the Happy Hour pool hall eventually led to a fine arts degree from the University of Florida. He and his wife, Carol, started their family in Tallahassee where Tedd worked as a commercial illustrator. Carol, a Kindergarten teacher, drew Tedd's attention to children's books. Their first son, Walter, inspired his breakthrough picture book, No Jumping on the Bed!. His second son, William, now stars in No More Water in the Tub!, a sequel to his first book. He has now published more than 30 books as author and illustrator. When not working on his books, Tedd's interests include tennis, sketching, reading, coin collecting, and the computer.

"The inspiration to begin writing and illustrating for children came from my wife, Carol. As a kindergarten teacher, she collected picture books. I was attracted to their colorful pages and the way the words and pictures played with each other, much like the captioned cartoons I had drawn when I was young.

"Perhaps the biggest surprise of my career as an author is that I'm now going back to elementary school! Visiting young readers in classrooms and libraries is something I love. Kids keep me on my toes and they ask a lot of questions. The number one question seems to be, 'Where do you getyour ideas?' It's also the hardest question to answer because every idea is different. Some ideas seem to pop out of thin air -- while I'm in the shower or walking the dog. Others come from reading or research. But most of my ideas come from my family and the things they do and say.

"For instance, one time when my first son, Walter, was five years old, I found him lying on the couch, looking pale as a ghost and clutching a Bible to his chest. He was praying! When I asked what was wrong, he wouldn't answer. In fact, he wouldn't even open his mouth. My wife, Carol, finally coaxed a response from him: he pointed inside his mouth. Carol exclaimed, 'You have a loose tooth!' Walter's eyes nearly popped out with fright. We quickly assured him that it was perfectly okay for his tooth to come loose and that a new one would replace it. But Carol and I looked at each other and realized that despite all our efforts to be good parents, we had somehow completely forgotten to warn Walter that teeth fall out! He had thought he was falling apart! I made a little note in my journal; then ten years later, I expanded that memory into my book Parts."

Tedd Arnold lives in Elmira, New York, with his wife, Carol, two sons, Walter and William, two cats, Cody and Frankie, and one dog, Hershey.

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Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
JennNY9999 More than 1 year ago
This book is loads of fun and it's a hoot to see so many of our favorite artists all together like this in a compilation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book may be short on text, but not on thought, creativity, and laughs. I use this book with my 3rd and 4th grade students to introduce the reading strategy of making inferences. The various illustrators add their own flair and the students are quick to recognize the artwork of many from other books. It also serves as a great spinoff for creating our own version of answers and possible other animals that "cross the road." Students ask to read it again and again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago