The Friday Book Review: The Chicken Of The Family.

Today’s book is ‘The Chicken Of The Family‘, written by Mary Amato and illustrated by Delphine Durand. It is published by Putman books.

The story is about two sisters who tease their younger sister by telling her that she is actually a chicken!  They take the joke further by leaving feathers by her bed and an egg, that she has supposedly laid, in the bed. The little sister, Henrietta, believes them and leaves home to join a farm and live with other chickens.

It is illustrated by one of my favourite illustrators, which is why I bought the book in the first place, little realising what a treat the story would be. It is a longish story, so is a picture book for older children , though younger ones would enjoy it too.

The illustrations are painted (in acrylic I think?) and are a mixture of double page spreads, singles and vignettes dotted about. The painting style is quite flat, with patterns /texture added on top.  Durand has clearly had a lot of fun with this book and the details of toys in the girls bedrooms clearly reflect some of the creatures that Durand is so good at creating. I love the lushness of the farm scenes and the cheerfulness of Henrietta playing with the chickens. The expressions of the two older sisters getting exasperated with Henrietta are great and very funny.

In the dedications of the book Amato thanks her agent for telling her a family story, inspiring her to write this. The tone of the story beautifully captures the way kids (and particularly siblings) can be quite cruel, though far from being moralising, it is a very funny book.

On Amato’s website it says that there is also a theatre script of the book and a musical- the chicken costume looks very good! It’s a great book and as it says on the back  ‘sometimes it’s good to be a chicken’ ..

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