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Monday, December 12, 2011

Blue Chicken, written and illustrated by Deborah Freedman. Viking, Penguin. 2011. $18.50 ages 2 and up

"A moo wakes the chickens.
They're peevish and blue. They
dump the red wheelbarrow,
dropping that chicken who just
wanted to..."

Talk about glorious color! Poring over the expressive faces of the two tiny animals on the cover and the brilliant blues that look ready to engulf them is the only invitation needed to get right to the heart of this story. But wait, flip it open to the endpapers at the front and rain-washed windows show a cloudy, gloomy day and a drab building in the background. The title page invites even more speculation about what is happening here. There is an almost completed farm painting lying on the table, accompanied by pots of paint, some brushes and a larger pot full of clear liquid.

Come on, let's step inside. A tiny white chicken is up to some mischief, escaping from its coop in the painting and creating quite a stir as its inquisitive nature draws it straight toward the blue paint pot!   A careful look inside, an overbalance, and OH DEAR! The blue spills and spreads, first bleeding up the chick's body and then threatening the flowers, and teensy yellow ducklings who are nearby.

They seem delighted. Not so, the cat and the cow...oh boy, things are getting out of hand. The chick is sincerely apologetic, and only wants to make things better! I wonder what she will do?

This is a remarkable lesson in perspective, color, composition, and watercolor artwork while never feeling anything but a lighthearted, humorous tale that will be enjoyed by all who share it.

A warning! You would be remiss if you did not take a very careful look at the final double-page spread and the endpapers at the back. Bravo!

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