From Publishers Weekly
Charlie the Dancing Chicken makes a dazzling debut, as does Fromental, in this droll hometown-bird-makes-good tale. A world-wise narration evocative of old movie voice-overs, combined with shadowed, grainy pastel illustrations (like slightly faded film stock), creates the impression that Charlie is starring as himself in an early Hollywood version of his lollapalooza of a life story. Charlie is discovered dancing for nickels in New York's Chinatown by Sam Z. Fowler?a theatrical agent with a cash register for a heart?and a comet-like career is born. Blazing through bohemian bars, in no time Charlie wows the Great White Way, earning the moniker Broadway Bantam. Movie stardom isn't far behind: Coop at the Top and Elmer Poultry are but two of his successes. "The world is my chicken coop," says Charlie. But once at the top, there's nowhere to go but down. Charlie, a chicken with pluck, survives the plummet and finds himself back in Chinatown, poorer but wiser. Seamlessly adapted from the French, the endless poultry-inspired wordplay alone is worth the price of admission. Although the clean-lined page design verges on the austere for such a showy tale, the oversize format suits this larger-than-life character. A tale to crow over. Ages 5-9.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3-This rags-to-riches-to-rags story chronicles the career of Charlie, a dancing chicken with one leg slightly shorter than the other. As the star of the "Chicken Legs" revue, he begins living the life of Riley and is soon the toast of the town. Hollywood beckons and Charlie becomes a screen star, too. After a jealous comic sends his career plummeting, he undergoes corrective surgery on his legs, determined to salvage what he can in this way. But afterward, to his dismay, he can no longer dance creatively, and is no longer unique. Poor Charlie is forced to return to New York City's Lower East Side, where he spins stories of his past successes; lest the lesson be lost, he ends each story with a didactic poem: "...Learn to cultivate your flaws;/It's your defects that win applause." The full-page illustrations rendered in pastels employ a palette of golds, browns, reds, with blues and violets suggesting shadow and dark. The artwork and typeface are in an art-deco style. The balanced composition is striking, focusing on highlights of the plot. The fast-paced, clever text has sophisticated sentence structure and challenging vocabulary but is, however, rife with cliche and reads like a parody of a B-movie. The intended audience will probably not understand or appreciate the puns and allusions to actors or film titles ("Coop at the Top" and "Elmer Poultry"). Throughout the story, the author (and, necessarily, the adaptor/translator) seems to be playing to adult readers.?Cynthia K. Richey, Mt. Lebanon Public Library, Pittsburgh, PA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.