Tuesday, October 2, 2012
The Chicken Problem, by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson. Random House, 2012. $19.99 ages 3 and up
Here's a book that kids are sure to love for its charming characters and gentle humor. Peg and Cat are best friends. They have much in common; the two most noticeable things for this story being their love of pie and their penchant for problem solving. It's a great combination.
It's a beautiful farm day when they decide to take a pie and have a 'perfect picnic with a pig.' They sit themselves down on a comfy blanket and then stare wide-eyed at each other when they discover that they have an extra piece of pie...a teeny one, to be sure. Peg is perplexed by the problem and is feeling overwrought for the poor piece of leftover pie. Cat comes to the rescue.
Off he goes to the bulging-with-chickens coop and gets a little chicken to eat the little piece of pie. For his problem solving he gets a 'great big squishy hug' from Peg. (He doesn't seem all that thrilled.) Now, they are ready to partake of the pie. Peg worries that there is another problem about to arise, and she is so right.
Cat has forgotten to close the coop door. They are overrun with 'one hundred chickens running wild' Oh, my goodness! Their reaction to the dilemma is to gather the chickens up and get them back to the coop...easier said than done. Peg realizes it's going to take a lot of work to capture one hundred chickens:
"I'll never get those one hundred chickens back in the coop."
"They'll keep running wild and going crazy all over the place forever
and ever and ever and ever and ever and I AM TOTALLY FREAKING OUT!"
With some ingenuity and a little help from Cat who has noticed nearby 'wheely things', Peg figures out just what to do. Once the chickens are cooped, the picnic is on!
The artwork screams with humor. From the endpapers, both front and back, to all the pages in between there is much to capture the reader's attention. Someof the artwork is done on graph paper and there is math everywhere. The pages use a +1 count with each turn of the page. The pie sizes descend in order of the eater's size. One hundred chickens? Are you sure? There's only one way to find out, right?
The first ten go back home; but, it's a great deal of work to capture and coop them. New problems are constantly arising and Peg and Cat prove adept at solving them together. Isn't that the best kind of math and friend fun?