Prather’s Pick: ‘Interrupting Chicken’ sequel based on a pun
“Creative, creative, creative” is the best way to describe this week’s picture book for children.
“Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise” is a sequel to “Interrupting Chicken,” a Caldecott-Honor Winning book, written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein. It is a new book, published in 2018.
According to Stein’s biography, the idea for the book came from a pun: “The elephant of surprise,” invented by Stein to amuse himself. The pun — for “the element of surprise” — quickly became a character, and the author decided to make the elephant part of “Interrupted Chicken,” his previous book. The result is a hilarious book with brightly-colored illustrations.
It all begins one day after school, when Papa is helping his little red chicken with her boots. Chicken says her teacher told the class there is an elephant of surprise in every story. Chicken coaxes Papa to bring his cup of tea and a book so they can read a story and find the elephant.
Papa insists the teacher was talking about an element of surprise, “the part of the story that makes you say, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know that was going to happen.’” Chicken, however, doesn’t listen.
So, Papa and Chicken read the first story.
Four pages of “The Ugly Duckling” follow. The ugly duckling is accepted by a group of swans, and, sure enough, there’s a blue elephant that shouts, “Surprise! I’m an elephant!” Chicken is there on the page, too, and she shakes hands with the elephant. It’s all in Chicken’s imagination, of course.
Papa says there is no elephant in “The Ugly Duckling,” but Chicken insists the teacher told the class that every story has an elephant. She wants to read another story.
In “Rapunzel,” when the prince climbs up Rapunzel’s braid and gets to the very top, Chicken sees the blue elephant instead of the princess. (The prince quickly gets away on his horse.) Papa again tries to reason with Chicken, but it does no good. She still believes each story has an elephant of surprise.
Papa and Chicken read “The Little Mermaid,” too, and Papa also writes a story for Chicken. This is a funny book that might be used in teaching children about “element of surprise.”
This week’s book can be found with new books in the children’s room at the Craig branch of Moffat County Libraries, or you can purchase it for $16.99 in hardcover. It would make a great Christmas gift.