From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 2—The four fowl from Big Chickens
(Dutton, 2005) agree that they should always stay home where it's safe "except…we've always wanted to see the farmhouse." As the hens venture out, time and again, they mistake other buildings and equipment for their destination and end up scurrying back to their coop. They almost give up, but then decide that chickens can be loud and dirty and wild. With determination, they make a pell-mell, treacherous dash through the field and arrive, at last, in front of the farmhouse. In a surprise ending, readers see the farmhouse right next to the chicken coop as the birds wonder, "Did someone move our coop?" Each traveling catastrophe is met with clever rhyming vocabulary and the repetition of phrases, all of which move the story forward with just enough predictability to engage young listeners and beginning readers. The dangers of the farm are expressed in the highly emotional reactions of the cartoon chickens and their exaggerated actions. Line, color, and placement all contrast the alternating chaos of exploring the farm with the safety of resting in the coop. A witty addition that is sure to elicit giggles from readers.—Julie R. Ranelli, Queen Anne's County Free Library, Stevensville, MD
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This rollicking picture book concerns four chickens with a hankering to see the farmhouse. Venturing from their cozy coop, they attempt to find the house but don’t know quite what they’re looking for. They approach the dog house, then the tractor, then the barn; each attempt leads to disaster and a cacophony of hysteria, ending in a retreat to the coop. Little by little, they conquer their fears and finally achieve their goal. Much of the fun comes from Helakoski’s memorable refrain, rhyming words, and rhythmic phrases, some of which trip smoothly off the tongue, while others seem designed to trip it up. The story’s pacing is first-rate, though, and Cole’s illustrations of the googly-eyed chickens’ exploits guarantee that children will get the joke every time. Comical-looking even in repose, the hens are funny in the scenes of panic and pandemonium. A barnyard romp. Preschool-Grade 2. --Carolyn Phelan