Kate DiCamillo is one of my favorite authors. She has written many books for young readers, ages young adult and elementary. Readers may remember “The Tale of Despereaux” which won the Newbery Medal and “Because of Winn-Dixie,” recipient of the Newbery Honor.
Recently, while I was at the library, I found “Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken,” a picture book by DiCamillo, for ages 4 through 8. The book was illustrated by Harry Bliss and was
published by Joanna Cotler Books, an Imprint of HaperCollinsPublishers, in 2008.
As the story opens, the reader finds Louise, a white chicken, at a farm where the farmer and his wife are doing their chores while cows graze nearby and other chickens search for food. (The illustrations are wonderful!)
You would think that Louise would be happy searching the pasture for bugs and other bits of food. However, she longs for adventure. So in the first of four chapters, she leaves the henhouse and goes to the sea where she walks right into the water.
Louise spots a ship and somehow manages to get aboard. The sailors speak a language that she doesn’t understand. It’s “blarney” this and “blarney” that. Louise is starting to think that there’s no adventure on this ship when one sailor shouts “pirates.” Sure enough, a black ship is approaching.
Now there’s adventure for sure. The pirates board Louise’s ship and begin to take everything—including Louise. The pirates argue about how to eat her — fricassee chicken fried chicken, or stewed chicken with dumplings.
Lucky for Louise, a storm approaches and it isn’t long before the ships crack and sink. Louise finds a timber in the water and hangs onto it. When the storm is over, she starts to paddle. After seven days she spots land. Once on shore she heads back to the farm.
The farmer and his wife are feeding the chickens when Louise gets back. A big brown hen named Monique wants to know where she’s been, but Louise doesn’t tell her about the adventure. Instead, she says,” Here and there.”
Then Louise goes into the henhouse and settles down in the straw in her nest compartment. (There are over 20 nest compartments along the wall, each with a name of a hen above it. The names include Heloise, Renee, Fifi, and Sophie — and Louise.)
Well, you would think that the pirate adventure would be enough for Louise, but she isn’t finished yet. When the circus comes to town, Louise is right there, and she even auditions. That’s Chapter 2, and there’s still another adventure after that.
This is a delightful book! You can find the book in the children’s room at the Craig branch of the Moffat County Libraries. The hardcover book costs $17.99.