Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin

Friday, April 13, 2012

Oh, Those Chickens...

Another candidate in the 2012 Children's Choice Book Award list for K-2nd grade voters takes readers down on the farm.  Three Hens and a Peacock (Peachtree Publishers) written by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole, is a classic tale of the-grass-is-not-always-greener-on-the-other-side.  Role reversals nearly ruin the ignorant participants.

Down on Tucker's farm all was as it should be; cows grazing, hens laying, dog dozing and vegetable stand waiting.  But when the back doors on a red delivery door fly open, an oversized box crashing open on the road, the quiet is about to be interrupted.  A prancing, preening peacock fans out his feathers shrieking; he has never known life on a farm.

As the misplaced newest member of the barnyard gang swaggers along the roadside, cars halt, cameras and wallets at the ready.  Better than a billboard this fowl is a blessing to business as each day passes.  But all is not blatantly blissful, the hens are in a tizzy.

Why should the peacock get the easy job when they do all the work of producing the eggs?  Peacock's feelings of usefulness crumble.  Remember the dog lounging on the porch?  He's got a plan.

Dressed to the nines in dazzling jewels those cluckers strut their stuff and puff and whew...they're pooped.  And let's face it, that door to the hen house was not made for a peacock.  Puzzled, Mr. and Mrs. Tucker watch these changes remarking on what they really want.

Luckily their conversation is overheard by one frustrated bird who gladly wishes to resume his rightful position.  All's well that ends well, until another truck goes by.  Oh...oh...

Laminack tells a tale laced with laughter.  His conversational tone about business not so usual sets the stage for consummate comedy.  His timing is im-peck-able.

Spirited, vivid illustrations created by Henry Cole in watercolor, ink and colored pencil pop off the pages.  His jacket and cover art when opened indeed show the three bugged-eyed beauties poking through peacock feathers but also the rear view, six spindly legs and three feathery behinds.  Front endpapers awash in a spray of peacock prettiness are not mirrored on the closing endpapers.  Instead we see the foursome fearfully watching from the right edge, watching what has fallen into their midst.

Whether angry, exasperated, inquiring, pleased or exhausted his fowl's features, eyes, beaks, wings and legs, say it all.  Not to be missed are the eyes on the contented cows following the comings and goings nor the expression on the knowing, observant canine's mouth.  Cole must have giggle goo mixed in with his media. 

Lester L. Laminack and Henry Cole have partnered to present a funny, farm frolic, Three Hens and a Peacock, destined to be a story time favorite.

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