Friday, February 27, 2009

Tough Chicks by Cece Meng illustrated by Melissa Suber

Here's a delightful story with several different positive messages within it. Some of the messages are meant for kids, but at least one of them is definitely for parents. What parents can learn from Mama Hen is . . . love your kids for who they are and don't let anyone talk you out of recognizing the strengths you see in them!

Mama Hen has her wings full with three tough, smart, active, strong little chick daughters; Penny, Polly, and Molly. The rest of the farm animals keep telling Mama Hen to "Make them be good!" But, she answers, they ARE being good. The problem is that Penny, Polly, and Molly are not acting like your typical chicks. They are not quietly scratching and pecking. They do not timidly hide under their mother's wing. They do not sweetly nest. Oh, no, these three tough chicks swing on the cow's tail, roll in the mud, and tinker with the farmer's tractor! They don't quite meet the expectations of everyone else, UNTIL their toughness and smarts are called upon to save the hen house.

Meng is a good children's writer and tells an enjoyable story. Suber's acrylic illustrations are visually entertaining. I love the feet and hooves of the animals when they are in motion. The three touch chicks each have a unique blue design on their down which sets them apart from the rest of the flock. My favorite illustration spread is pages 26-27, when everyone is working together to rescue the tractor. (Note the hooves of the sheep and pig! It made me laugh out loud!) Look for Tough Chicks in Picture Books under Meng.

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