Skip to main content

Interrupting Chicken written and illsutrated by David Ezra Stein

This review was first published on 10/6/10. This book, so deserving of the Caldecott Honor, is one that I can read over and over and over - and did when I was a bookseller! The concept is brilliant and the story is told so well, perfectly paired with the illustrations! Definitely a book worth buying for your own family and as a gift for others.

It took me a while to warm up to Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein, but a few readings at home and at story time and the reactions of the listeners convinced me that this brilliant book is destined to be around for a long time.  As an adult, I think that simplicity is sometimes lost on me when I read a picture book.  My adult brain is calculating the cost of the book vs. the number of words on the page, the appeal of the art work inside and the possible number of times I can read it out loud with interest and the number of times I will be asked to read it out loud.  Mo Willems and his Elephant and Piggie have proven that my cost vs. value equation for picture books is way off may times over.  

When I read Interrupting Chicken, at home to my six year old or at work to a group of kids of varying ages, the response is the same - rapt attention.  I think, having heard the "Interrupting" knock-knock joke told to me by more than one little kid, I was expecting a bigger comedic pay-off from Interrupting Chicken.  However, the joke itself doesn't offer a spectacular payoff, and the book has something more - a story about a little chicken who keeps interrupting her bedtime story, eventually putting her father to sleep.  When reading to a new group of kids, I always like to start by asking if anyone knows the meaning of the word "interrupt," and if they every interrupt anyone?  It's pretty funny to see what the kids say...

Papa says he will read his little chicken a bedtime story from her favorite book if she promises not to interrupt the story.  "Oh no, Papa, I'll be good!" she replies.  Papa pulls out the giant story book and begins to read Hansel & Gretel.  The reader gets to see the inside of the story book, as well as the scraps and crumbs in the binding that show that it is well read.

Papa begins to read the story but, just as the children are about to be tricked by the witch, little chicken interrupts!

This is a very funny moment and ripe for silly voices and the best part is, you, the reader, get to interrupt (in the voice of the little read chicken) two more times!  PAYBACK!!!!  Finally, Papa is too worn out to read anymore and he asks his little chicken to tell him a story.  Full of energy and not the least bit sleepy, she decides to write and illustrate it as well.  Her story, which we get to see just as we see the pages of the book Papa was reading from, is titled, "Bedtime for Papa by Chikn."  Two pages into the story, it is interrupted - by the snores of Papa.  When chicken realizes what has happened, she tucks them both into bed and goes to sleep - finally.

I have not gotten tired of reading this book yet!  In fact, I have read it so often at story time that some kids have heard it twice.  As with all great picture books, this works on two levels - the purely entertaining kid level and the wink-wink adult level.  

Don't miss David Ezra Stein's gorgeous, charming Leaves about a bear who has never seen the leaves fall off the trees before.  Not quite sure how to respond, he tries to reattach them to the trees, but also considers sleeping in them.


Popular posts from this blog

Made by Dad: 67 Blueprints for Making Cool Stuff - Projects You Can Build For (and With) Kids! by Scott Bedford

On his personal website, Scott Bedforddescribes himself as an "Award Winning Online Creative Professional" working within the advertising and design industry. What is more interesting (and applicable here) is how hisWhat I Made website came to be. While sitting in a Starbucks with his restless young sons, trying to enjoy his latte, Bedford created something out of coffee stir sticks that ended up keeping his boys entertained, finishing his coffee in peace and sparking (re-sparking, really) his creative drive and reminding him of the "enormous joy gained from making things, even simple things, and that this joy is not the complexity or quality of the finished project but in the process of making itself. On Bedford'sWhat I Made website, he even shares Six Cool Coffee Shop Crafts for Kidsthat you can try out next time you want to enjoy your coffee and your kids are making that difficult. I've shared two below - be sure to check out the website and see the rest!


POP-UP: Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book, paper engineering by Ruth Wickings, illustrations by Frances Castle RL: All ages

POP-UP:  Everything You Need to Know to Create Your Own Pop-Up Book with paper engineering by Ruth Wickings and illustrations by Frances Castle is THE COOLEST BOOK EVER!!!  I know that I haven't dedicated much time to pop-up books here, but they have always held a special place in my heart, and the phrase "paper engineering" is a favorite of mine. Although I didn't know what it was at the time, I did go through a paper engineering phase when I was ten or so. I would sneak off to the back of the classroom during independent work periods and go to town on the construction paper and glue and make these little free-standing dioramas. A huge fan of The Muppet Show (the original), I reconstructed the all-baby orchestra from an episode, drawing and coloring each baby and his/her instrument then gluing them onto a 3D orchestra section I had crafted out of brown construction paper.  I also made a 3D version of Snidely Whiplash throwing Nell off a cliff with Dudley Do-Right wa…

The Seeing Stick, written by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Daniela J Terrazini

The Seeing Stick is an original Chinese fairy tale written by the prolific (and prolifically award winning) Jane Yolen. First published in 1977 with illustrations by Remy Charlip (author and illustrator of the brilliantly fun picture book Fortunately and friend and muse to Brian Selznick, who asked him to pose as George Méliès while he was working on the Caldecott winning The Invention of Hugo CabretThe Seeing Stick was reissued with new illustrations by Daniela J. Terrazini in 2009. I have not seen Charlip's version, but Terrazini's is a beautiful work of art and the book itself is yet another magnificently packaged book published by Running Press, the house that brought us Steven Arntson's The Wikkeling, yet another superbly and uniquely packaged children's book with artwork by Terrazini. Interestingly, both The Wikkeling and The Seeing Stick were designed by Frances J Soo Ping Chow.

The Seeing Stick begins, "Once in the ancient walled citadel of Peking there l…