Chicken Big by Keith Graves

‘Chicken Big’ is a delightful piece of nonsense.

Chicken Big hatches from the largest egg anyone in the henhouse has ever seen. It’s so big that they’re sure Chicken Big cannot possibly be a chicken. Chicken Little is sure Chicken Big must be an elephant. So poor young Chicken Big is banished from the hen house. But Chicken Little also thinks that the sky is falling, the sky is leaking and other calamities are imminent, so perhaps he’s not an authority on anything. But the other chickens listen. Each time, it’s Chicken Big who saves them from terrible fate. Eventually they decide that he must be a chicken after all and readmit him to the henhouse. Now everything will get back to normal…won’t it?

Chicken Big is a delightful piece of nonsense. Chicken Little is there, and scaremongering as per the falling sky, but he/she’s not alone. The other ‘normal’ sized chickens/hens are quite foolish and easily led, with only Chicken Big showing a modicum of sense. And he’s the youngest! There is plenty to giggle about, but it’s also a good way to introduce the notion of difference and belonging and sense and nonsense. There are lots of speech bubbles to add to the hilarity. The illustrations are full of colour and life, with all the chickens having very expressive faces. Recommended for pre and early primary children.

Chicken Big

Chicken Big, Keith Graves Scholastic Australia 2012 ISBN: 9781741699777

review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author

Whacko the Chook, by Mark Svendsen & Ben Redlich

Whacko the Chook is feeling sad, and decides she needs a friend – so she sets out to find one. But the other chooks are busy with their own lives, and don’t seem to need Whacko. Each rejection makes her sadder and sadder, until finally she gives in to the urge to go and hide in a nice dark place. But in the nesting box she discovers that her urge for a friend is also a deeper urge to lay an egg. With her new egg, Rodney, Whacko realises she has a friend all of her own.

Whacko the Chook is a humorous picture book story with a gentle message. Kids will love the different chicken characters – as well as Whacko, a plain white chicken with a scraggly red head, there is Henny-wise, a helmet wearing hunter, Chooky Looky, a crazy spotted hen who is convinced the sky is falling, and Pretty-Little Pennyfeather, a vain, conceited hen. Adult readers will enjoy creating voices for the four characters, with plenty of dialogue with which to have fun. The illustrations, too, will delight, with the browns and greys of the chook pen brightened with the reds of the hens’ heads and other splashes of colour. The hens’ facial expressions are hilarious.

This a fun offering which will appeal to the obvious preschool audience, but also to older children.

Whacko the Chook

Whacko the Chook, by Mark Svendsen and Ben Redlich
Lothian, 2007

This book can be purchased online at Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.