Saturday, October 6, 2007

One Little Chicken: A Counting Book

Elliott, David. 2007. One Little Chicken: A Counting Book. Illustrated by Ethan Long.

I have mixed opinions on One Little Chicken. On one hand, it is a fun, rhyming counting book. It is a concept book with a fun premise: a counting book with dancing poultry. The book features chickens doing all sorts of dances and having lots of crazy fun as the numbers get higher and higher. On the other hand, one thing that is slightly disappointing is the fact that while it rhymes it isn't really very rhythmical. Some books are so rythmical, so right, that the text seems to sing. This one doesn't. That's not a crime necessarily. It's not an unpardonable sin. But I think it would have more appeal if the words flowed a bit more smoothly. What this book really needs is insight from a kid. I am curious what kind of reaction this book gets from children. Do they laugh? Do they giggle? Do they count along? Do they do the dances? Do they wiggle and move and shake about while someone is reading it aloud? Do they interact with the text? If they do, then this book would be a success. Sometimes adults are more harsh with a book than they need to be. They notice things that wouldn't bother any kid. I'm wondering if that is the case in this situation. The second half of the book invites audience participation.

But one little chicken
will not bugaloo.
Who is that little chicken?
Oh my gosh! It's you!

The text then implores you to get up and boogie and shake.

Make your own music
with wax paper and a comb
and dance! dance! dance!
till the cows come home.

The last rhyme, the last little bit, seems forced to me. It doesn't seem natural for some reason. I don't know if it's the excessive use of exclamation points after each dance when commas would suffice. Or if it's the fact that instructing kids on wax paper and comb music skills seems out of place with the rest of the text...or what. I think if it had ended any other way, I would have enjoyed it better. What do I like about the text? I like the fact that it's chickens dancing. Yes, chickens are big this year. But I think there is a bit of a hidden, "clever" meaning. Those on the sidelines too scared to dance and have a little fun are being chickens. The text is saying stop being a chicken and get out there and have fun.

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