The Great Chicken Escape by Nikki McClure
Nikki McClure works her magic again in her newest picture book, The Great Chicken Escape. If you don't know anything about McClure's books, know that the natural world plays a powerful part in all of her work, often, specifically that natural world of the Pacific Northwest coastline. Also know that McClure creates her illustrations through the art of the papercut, saying, "I cut my images from black paper with an X-Acto knife. Everything is connected. It is all once piece of paper, yet now it holds a story."
With only four lines of text in the book, the illustrations, as well as an introductory note from the author, the pictures tell the story of four chickens and their escape from their coop. One is caught, but two black and one white chicken make their way through the berry brambles, past grazing cows, and down a path to the coastline, where the chickens explore. Returning home in the evening to the ringing of the bells, the white chicken drags a rope of kelp with her, following her friends into the coop.
A wonderful story on its own, The Great Chicken Escape is made even more endearing knowing (from the author's note) that McClure once lived with a group of monastics on Spruce Island, Alaska. Her writing is as rich as her illustrations, and in just two paragraphs she vividly describes summertime on the island and the bounty of nature that was smoked, canned, picked, jammed and potted. Saying that, "Island life make small events huge," McClure goes on to tell of the day the chickens escaped their coop, only a few being caught by the nuns, the rest having an adventure - an adventure that became The Great Chicken Escape.
Source: Review Copy