The Sky, a Chick, and Fact-Checking

Though this book, Chicken Little, The Real and Totally True Tale by Sam Wedelich,| is a couple of years old, I keep going back to it. This retelling is fun, funny and surprisingly relevant. And I love the illustrations. I was going to suggest its timeliness, too, but thinking about it, I suppose the the Chicken Little story has always been relevant.

It is a centuries-old tale of a young chick that is hit on the head with a falling pinecone or nut or something and jumps to the conclusion that the sky is falling. Her panic is infectious and soon everyone in her whole world is panicked.  The original version of this tale comes to a rather gruesome end involving the consumption of every character by a sly Fox. Ack.

No gruesomeness in this version, thankfully. Plenty of panic and hysteria, though.

As in the original versions, Chicken Little is struck by something falling from the sky—we never actually find out what that object is, but then it is irrelevant to the story.*

In this telling, Chicken Little is reasonable and curious and instead of flying into a fearful frenzy, she does her research. She confronts the Sky to find out if it is indeed falling.

The Sky assures her it is not and that everything is hunky dory.

Unfortunately a chicken mishears Chicken Little and flees, screaming about the falling sky. As in the original, her panic rouses an unhinged hullabaloo in all the other animals, in this case all the other animals are chickens. 

Even after the well-regarded, fact-checking Snipes determine that the “sky is falling” is FALSE,

the chickens continue to panic and to do things against their best interests. I particularly liked the three syllable chant by a riled up mob, “Cut the fence! Cut the fence.” Reminded me of something…hmmm.

Fortunately, chickens are mothers and mothers have an innate sense of duty and, well, you’ll have to read this to see how it ends. But rest assured, as I mentioned above, no hungry fox enters the scene.

The cover of this book made me pick it up initially. Strong yet simple character, instantly likable. And red cowboy boots. Leafing through the book, I decided to buy it without reading the story just because of the illustrations. As I often do. Sometimes the story is as good as the illustrations, sometimes not so much. This time it was a very good match. Working digitally, Wedelich used a limited palette of reds, oranges, yellows and browns, and some muted blues and grays. The characters are simply drawn with black line and filled with color. Minimal detail with slight textures add to the characters and showcase the crazy panic. The characters are extremely emotive and you can sense their (misguided) terror. The simplicity of the art and all that is accomplished in that simplicity is enviable. At least for me. 

Again, this is a fun, funny and relevant book. With a little lesson about doing a bit of research before inciting bedlam. 

*It may have been an acorn as there is a tiny spot of one on the last page with the legalese. 

kevan atteberry

13 Comments:

  1. Oh I have to see this book! Absolutely love what you’ve shared!

  2. It’s on hold at my library. Can’t wait to read it! Thanks for sharing.

  3. That first spread…”I am a blanket of gas held by the pull of gravity. I do not fall.” Love the tone. Need to read the rest!

  4. This looks so fun! Thanks for this post, Kevan…looking forward to reading it!!

  5. This does look good! Like the others, just added it to my next library haul! Thank you for sharing!

  6. Love this post! Very smart illustration style–simple yet emotionally evocative. “Cut the fence…” is a great line, I get it. (PS: I had to google this, but the fact-checking website is “snopes” not snipes : ) Thank you for posting!

  7. Thanks for recommending this book, Kevan! I’ve not heard of it but now I’m very curious to read it since I want to study how to pull off satire at a kid level. 🙂

  8. Jilanne F Hoffmann

    Love the fact-checking tie-in! How timely. I often love author-illustrator books, and this looks like a winner. Thanks for the rec!

  9. This looks like a fun rendition of a class tale. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Kevan, thank you for calling attention to this timely (ahem) book. A great lesson in fact-checking!

  11. Thank you for a good post. I have the book on hold at my library!

  12. Boy oh boy!…This looks adorable.

  13. This sounds wonderful, great for critical literacy.

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