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Monday, July 30, 2012

Chicken Dance, wirtten by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Dan Santat. Sterling, 2009. $19.50 ages 5 and up

"Marge and Lola dusted themselves off and shook hay from their feathers. "Now what?" asked Lola. "We could try swimming," said Marge. Lola nodded. "Swimming chickens? Now that's talent! The chickens tottered to the pond. They jumped. They fluttered. They totally sank. The ducks swam by. "Get some floaties, chickens!"

Before I tell you about the sequel to this tale of two chickens and their rock star idol, I wanted to introduce Marge and Lola. They are enamored of Elvis Poultry and feel destined to win the grand prize in their barnyard talent show. If they win, they win tickets to the Final Doodle Doo concert tour, and see Elvis live! All bets are off for what they will do to secure that once-in-a-lifetime trip! They are certainly not encouraged by the vain and boastful ducks:

"Don't bother, drumsticks."
"Ducks win every year."
"All a chicken can do is bawk, flap, and shake."

Undeterred, they try their hand at any number of talents they feel they might showcase. Each failure brings new determination, and another attempt at surefire success. As they watch those who perform ahead of them, they are not impressed. When the cows jump over the moon, Lola is quick to respond to their performance:

"That's old."

When the ducks get a nine for their spectacular surfing safari, the chickens have second thoughts. As they take the stage, the ducks are relentless in their rude remarks. Fired by their fury over the heckling, Marge and Lola make a quick decision to show the crowd what they are best at...'let's bawk and roll!'

Dancing with the Stars might consider them as guests for the new season! They can strut with the best of them. The audience is enthralled, as is one surprise guest. That will lead to 'act two' for Marge and Lola.

Oh, that Dan Santat! He uses the endpapers to give the audience all steps needed to learn a variety of dances, including the Disco Chicken and the Chattanooga Choo Choo. It allows the fun to last long after the story is told. Having Dan and Tammi show their own dance moves is inspired. As are the artist blurbs on the back flyleaf. And we haven't touched on the illustrations in the book!

The front cover sports two star-struck biddies gaping in awe at a bling-bedecked, sunglass-sporting, poncho-wearing idol. The back cover has the song titles for his self-titled Elvis Poultry album. Songs include Can't Help Falling in Feed and Are You Ruffled Tonight? Too funny, by far! Accompanying  Tammi Sauer's wonderful wordplay and witty text, this is a book that is sure to occasion a repeat performance. It will leave listeners begging to hear some of Elvis' signature songs and perhaps even willing to try their 'feet' at one or two dance steps. The fun continues!

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