Book tells why chicken crossed the road

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Ever since Linda Putnam, children's librarian at the Moffat County Library, showed me this week's picture book, I've wanted to review it. Linda was using the book then, but last week I got the chance to check it out.

"Funny" and "different" are words that a reader might use when describing "Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?"

The book is "different" because it was illustrated by not one illustrator (which is the usual case) but 14 well-known artists, each with a wonderful sense of humor.

Their names are listed "in pecking order" on the cover of the book.

Each artist took a crack at answering the age-old question:

"Why did the chicken cross the road?" The answers are presented in artwork (two pages per illustrator), some with words and others without.

For example, Harry Bliss, illustrator of "Diary of a Spider" and "Diary of a Worm" (both previously reviewed in this column), says to ask the mutated chickens from Mars about why the chicken crossed the road. In the illustration, a white chicken is crossing the highway in a desert. She's in a big hurry because just behind her is a bunch of weird-looking chickens. They have sharp teeth and green tongues, and their wings are stretched out in front so they walk like robots.

Mo Willems, who said he crossed the road himself, took another artistic approach to answering the question. The scene is a police department where a poor brownish-colored chicken is sitting in a chair. She's being questioned by detectives.

The chicken is so nervous that eggs litter the chair and floor.

The detectives mean business, too. One even fills a barbecue grill with charcoal. Another studies mug shots of the chicken.

But the chicken keeps insisting that she just crossed the road to get to the other side -- "honest!"

The chickens in Lynn Munsinger's detailed drawing are crossing the road "because the light said 'walk.'" It's busy downtown Fowl City where a chicken traffic officer has taxis and a tour bus stopped to make sure pedestrians get across the street.

Some fashionable lady chickens carry shopping bags from fancy places like Chicks Fifth Avenue and Henri Hendel's.

A nanny chicken pushes a buggy that has a white egg safely strapped inside. Four chicks follow along.

A rooster, wearing a watch and carrying a briefcase, flies over the others. There are jogger chickens, too, and a pizza delivery chicken. And there's more.

Wait until you see these illustrations and the 11 others! This clever, wacky book is a must read for all ages!

Two "Scoop from the Coop" pages at the end of the book provide some biographical information about all of the artists.

In addition, the artists provide some humorous answers to still another question: "Why did the artist cross the road?"

"Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?" is published by Dial Books For Young Readers (2006). The hardcover book costs $16.99, and you get a free poster, too -- ISBN 0-8037-3094-2

Copyright Diane Prather/ 2006. All rights reserved.

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