Monday, January 22, 2007

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

Agee, Jon. 2006. WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD? New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730942 [Suggested Grade Levels 1 – 6]

Although this eclectic picture book will amuse anyone, it holds special appeal for fans of contemporary children’s picture book art. In it, fourteen of today’s most successful picture book artists visually answer the perennial question: Why did the chicken cross the road?

The scenarios depicted range as widely as the artists’ recognizable styles. Marla Frazee begins by contrasting a chicken coop beneath gloomy wet skies against a colorful chicken palace on the sunny side of the street. A single word--“duh”--hovers above the chicken. Later, David Shannon shows a chicken at the wheel of a red convertible filled with barnyard animals. The caption reads “because the light was green!” In contrast, Harry Bliss says that to answer the question we should “ask the mutated zombie chickens from Mars!” He then pictures a chicken hot footing it across the road with a legion of bug eyed, sharp-toothed, green-tongued chickens in pursuit.

Children will enjoy identifying the various artists and associating this art with familiar books. As with anything, they will likely appreciate the style and humor of some inclusions more than others. Sharing this book presents a great opportunity to talk about varying tastes and points of view.

Encourage children to brainstorm other ideas about why the chicken crossed the road and to illustrate their ideas in their own unique artistic style.

Jokes and riddles for beginning readers:
Hall, Katy. DINO RIDDLES. ISBN 9780142501795, 0142501794
Helmer, Marilyn. CRITTER RIDDLES. ISBN 9781553374459, 1553374452
For older readers:
Brewer, Paul. YOU MUST BE JOKING! ISBN 9780812626612, 0812626613
Thomas, Lyn. HA! HA! HA!: 1000+ JOKES, RIDDLES, FACTS AND MORE. ISBN 1897066120, 9781897066126

By Suzy Parchman

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