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Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken Hardcover – Bargain Price, September 23, 2008

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--This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

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Editorial Reviews Review

She longed for adventure.

So she left her home and ventured out into the wide world.

The pleasures and perils she met proved plentiful: marauding pirates on the majestic seas, a ferocious lion under the bright lights of the big top, a mysterious stranger in an exotic and bustling bazaar.

Yet in the face of such daunting danger, our heroine . . .

She was brave.

She was fearless.

She was feathered.

She was a chicken.

A not-so-chicken chicken.

Her name?

A Look Inside Louise: The Adventures of a Chicken (Click on Images to Enlarge)

Louise Meets Some Pirates Louise Meets a Fortune Teller

Questions for Kate DiCamillo Tell us about Louise--how is she so brave? What do you do when you’re feeling a little bit chicken?

Kate Dicamillo: When I think of Louise, the words that come to mind are insouciant and unflappable. I suppose that when all is said and done, she is brave. But she's also kind of, um, *clueless.* As for me, when I am feeling afraid, I squawk and flap my wings and run around in circles and then I go ahead and try to do the thing that I'm pretty sure I can't do. I know pirates don't keep very good records, but have you found any historical evidence of chickens adventuring with pirates?

Dicamillo: Yes, it's true, pirates don't keep great records. But there are several diaries of chickens that have survived through the ages and they paint a quite colorful (and detailed (and sometimes horrifiying)) picture of the many adventures that chickens have had with pirates. I refererred to these diaries when I was doing my research. They were written in chicken scratch; it was slow going. If Louise, Despereaux, and Mercy Watson went on an adventure together, what do you think would happen?

Dicamillo: Wow, there's a picture . . . let's see. I can envision Louise standing on Mercy's back and Despereaux perched on Louise's head. *Anything* could happen, I suppose. And would. But I'm sure that whatever happened, it would involve toast, hot air balloons, cluelessness and Despereaux ultimately saving the day. This is your first collaboration with Harry Bliss. Did you have his style in mind when you wrote the story, or did you join up with him afterward?

Dicamillo: When I wrote Louise, I didn't have a particular illustrator in mind. But the chicken (the whole world!) that Harry has brought to life in this book has delighted and humbled me. He's a genius. You've written award-winning books for kids of every age. Do you tell a different kind of story for each age, or do you think all kids find the same elements appealing?

Dicamillo: I don't think about what age the story is for or who or why. I just try to tell a story that makes me happy, one that makes me laugh, or cry; I try to tell a story that makes me glad to be here.

Kate DiCamillo is the acclaimed author of many books for young readers, including The Tale of Despereaux, winner of the Newbery Medal; Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor Book; and The Tiger Rising, a National Book Award finalist. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2—A picture book in four chapters in which a thrill-seeking chicken repeatedly leaves the warm security of her henhouse seeking excitement. She is captured by hungry pirates, survives a sinking ship, joins the circus, narrowly escapes a lion, is caged with other chickens, picks the lock with her beak, and liberates her fellow captives. Back home in her barnyard, Louise enthralls her sister chickens with the story of her grand exploits, until all fall asleep tucked safely in their henhouse, having felt the vicarious frisson of adventure. In the nicely patterned telling, DiCamillo ends each of Louise's escapades with an old hen asking her where she has been. "Oh, here and there," is Louise's casual answer. Each new chapter begins with the bold brooder still eager to embark anew. Bliss's illustrations depict the settings of Louise's capers in vague antique worlds with various backdrops and in various eras. On every spread, Louise's bright white feathers and brilliant red cockscomb will stand out and draw the eyes of young readers. Smart choices in book design allow for an oversize book that suits its larger-than-life heroine, and vertical spreads that capture Louise's circus high-wire walk to maximum visual effect. This is a jolly metaphor for the stages of childhood in which young children long for short-lived independence and exploration always within the reassuring bounds of a secure home and family.—Kate McClelland, Perrot Memorial Library, Old Greenwich, CT
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 56 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (October 1, 2008)
  • ISBN-10: 0060755547
  • ASIN: B002EQ9LSA
  • Product Dimensions: 10 x 0.4 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kate DiCamillo is the author of The Magician's Elephant, a New York Times bestseller; The Tale of Despereaux, which was awarded the Newbery Medal; Because of Winn-Dixie, a Newbery Honor book; and six books starring Mercy Watson, including the Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book Mercy Watson Goes for a Ride. She lives in Minneapolis.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By K. Kim on October 4, 2008
Format: Hardcover
When you're young, it still feels like anything can and might happen to you. Adventures peek out from under the horizon, big and fantastical ones that could make you feel more in control of your own destiny, more seasoned as a person, or like you're having more fun than you would be just sitting at home.

Louise is like that. She's a chicken who wants to experience "true adventure" and leaves home to discover what it really is. Her adventures are familiar in theory (pirates, the circus, faraway lands) and yet full of the unexpected when actually realized. There are dark moments and funny ones, often on the same page and in both the text and illustrations. The reader is privy to an understated version of the emotions and thoughts that run through Louise's mind as she seeks out "true adventure". Without a lot of exclamation points and hardly any exposition, Louise's story is quietly satisfying.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By sad-Pam TOP 500 REVIEWER on October 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
In this book Kate DiCamillo -- Newbery Winner and National Book Award finalist -- joins forces with Harry Bliss -- award winning illustrator of "Diary of a Worm" and the New Yorker magazine-- to produce a lighthearted book about a hen that longs for adventure, and gets it!

Those familiar with Kate DiCamillo know that while her books appear to be fables for young children, that they often have a dark side that makes them better targeted to the middle school and up crowd. With "Louise" however, there was only one grim moment, where a pirate was sucked down into the ocean, and it was handled well enough that I had no problem reading this book to my 6 year old son and his older sister.

As for the message, I would say that there were two. The first is that while adventure is exciting and interesting, that it is equally wonderful to be safe at home with your family and friends. The second message is not going to be something that children as young as mine are going to fully understand: it's the assertion that reading and hearing about an adventure is as good as living it.

4.5 Stars. My children LOVED this book. They thought the story was great, and they howled with laughter at some of Louise' antics; although there are assuredly some references, like the one to Bogart and the African Queen, that only adults will get.

Pam T~
mom and reviewer for
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on March 11, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This work has been around for about three or so years now. I first read it when it was first published and must tell you that I was completely captivated by every aspect of this work. I have read this book to quite a number of children since the book first hit the stores and have yet to find a kid that did not like the story and the illustrations. This is a wonderful work to start conversations with children. More about that later.

This work is a picture chapter book consisting of four chapters and full page illustrations. Louise is a chicken who has a hankering for adventure; high adventure. Her nice little home on the farm where she has ever thing she needs is getting sort of boring so Louise decides to do something about it and she leaves her henhouse and goes to sea. And adventure she fines!

Louise joins a ship, learns a new language from the sailors, "Blarney? Blarney! and PIRATES!". Yes, Louise is captured by pirates and we have a nice reminisces of an episode in the Hobbit where the three trolls argue over how they are going to cook the dwarfs they have captured. In this case, the pirates argue over fricassee, fried, stewed, dumplings or just cooked, as to what to do with Louise. Lucky for our plucky chicken a storm blows up while the pirates are arguing and she escapes. After several days adrift, Louise returns to her hen house.

But still, she wants more adventure and immediately joins a circus; a traveling circus. The adventures there culminate in our little hen almost being eaten by a Lion so it is back to the hen house for her and the safety of home.

The next chapter involves Louise wondering through a exotic and fabulous bazaar; somewhere in the mid-east we have to assume by the looks of the dress and characters.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Fladd on January 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We haven't read any of Ms. Dicamillo's other, better-known books yet, but my 4 year old and I love Louise. This is a great book for reading outloud. The pirates, the ring master, the aerialist and the fortune teller all beg to have their own voices, but I was surprised that Louise DEFINITELY had a voice of her own - one I hadn't ever used in a book before.

The Boy has listened to Louise every night for the past week and a half and I still like reading it to him. This is a sterling success for a picture book!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Emily Dickinson on February 23, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If only we could have MORE picture books like this one--longer, as in WORDIER, excellently written, with some depth, some meat to them. The plot does not turn on a miniscule incident or problem. There are humorous touches: "Louise heart beat fast within her feathered breast," memorable phrasesL: "the deep and dreamless sleep of the true adventurer." Also, Louise is not transparent; there are plot subtleties, such as Louise's not talking about her adventures to the other chickens, that Dicamillo trusts children to pick up on. There are lots of things to wonder about, lots of "Whys" to ask when finished, so Louise begs to be reread. There is more to this "picture book" than wonderful illustrations (although they are wonderful). I like very much the ending which is gives a well-deserved nod to the creative writers who provide adventure for all of us. My two grandchildren, ages 6 and 3, were entranced. DiCamillo has reached the stage in her career where she can experiment. I hope this "old fashioned" picture book inspires publishers to bring out more of the same.
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