Blue Chicken






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Publication: The Horn Book Magazine
Author: Smith, Robin L
Date published: January 1, 2012

Blue Chicken by Deborah Freed man; illus. by the author Primary Viking 40 pp. 9/11 978-0-670-01293-0 $15.99

An almost-finished watercolor picture of a bucolic farm scene is the setting for some fowl high jinks when one of the chickens pops out of the picture and tries to help. But the unseen painter (who might be the same person as the narrator, or might not) has made one critical mistake - leaving the lid off the blue paint jar. Our curious little chicken upends the paint, covering herself and the picture, bathing everything in deep blue. Like Harold and his famous crayon, the whole world changes as the paint flows, turning ground to water and flooding the whole landscape. Soon everyone is angry at the apologetic chicken, who attempts to set things right. Literal readers will want to know how the blue paint, after being cleaned up by the water, remains only in the sky and not on the other white places, but all will appreciate the sheer joy of a book that celebrates color and innocent mischief. The closing endpapers give a humorous hint of the type of artistic help the chicken and her energetic friends are willing to offer, this time with another primary color: red. Comparisons to Wiesner's Three Pigs are inevitable, and those who like a little metafiction with their picture books will splash right along with this "helpful" chicken. ROBIN L. SMITH

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