Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Children's Book Review: Blue Chicken by Deborah Freedman

ISBN 9780670012930 | 40 pages | 15 Sep 2011 | Viking Children's | 9.25 x 6.25in | 3 - 5 years


In this deceptively simple picture book, author-illustrator Deborah Freedman has created an irresistible character that springs to life and wreaks havoc in a farmyard with a pot of blue paint. The innocent chicken just wants to help, but things get worse and worse—and bluer and bluer—the more she tries. Playing with colors and perspective, and using minimal text, this richly layered story reveals new things to see and laugh about with each reading.

My Thoughts:

While preparing my summer reading list, I thought it would be a great idea to highlight some authors from the New England area, as I am originally from MA and moved to CT back in 2007.  I especially wanted to include children's authors from CT, and was surprised at lucky I am as a resident of CT to have a large number of children's authors and illustrators right in my backyard.  One author's name kept popping up when I was doing my research, Deborah Freedman, out of Hamden, CT.  So, I knew I had to reach out to her and see if I could review her recent release, Blue Chicken.  She obliged and had her publicist send me a copy.

When I received the book in the mail, the book cover caught my eye.  My favorite color is blue, and seeing the white chicken and yellow duckling playing in spilled paint looked entertaining and fun.  I just had to open the book and see what caused the spill. To my surprise, it was the white chicken who started the whole mess, and who in the end tries to fix things.  The story begins with the artist leaving her painting, which only needs minor touch ups, to go paint the barn outside.  While outside, the white chicken decides to help the artist out by finishing the painting, but ends up spilling the blue paint everywhere. 

This is when the fun begins.  The painting comes alive and all the animals inside the painting get covered in blue paint.  I have never seen another children's book, where the author cleverly makes a painting/story within a story come alive.  While reading the story, you actually felt like the painting was not a painting, but a real scene of barn animals.  This really engaged me as a reader, and I know will do the same with young readers.  We continue to follow the story to see what happens -- will the artist return back to finish the painting only to find it ruined, or will the chicken find a way to make things right.  You will have to read the book to find out what happens in the end, as I don't want to spoil it for you.

Overall, I was happy to have stumbled across Deborah Freedman and her book, Blue Chicken, and will definitely be following her and her work from now on.  I love how she writes her stories and illustrates them.  What a treat for both parents and children alike this book is.  I highly recommend this book for your family's book collection -- it is sure to become a hit and one book that will be read over and over again.

About the Author:

Deborah Freedman is an architect turned author-illustrator who lives in Connecticut. Her first picture book, Scribble, was published by Knopf in 2007. Blue Chicken, released by Viking on September 15, has received starred reviews from Kirkus Reviews and School Library Journal, and is a Junior Library Guild Selection for Fall 2011.

Deborah was a finalist in the category of Children's Author for the 2008 Connecticut Book Award. Scribble was listed as a Book Sense Children's Pick, a Best Book by the Association of Booksellers for Children, one of the 10 Best Children's Books of 2007 by the Rocky Mountain News, and the Best "Under the Radar" Picture Book for 2007 by School Library Journal's Fuse #8.

Disclosure:  I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

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