Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise

Candlewick. Sept. 2021. 40p. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9781536212099.
Gr 1-4–Interrupting Chicken is back for another humorous reading adventure. Little Red Chicken has just returned from a day at school, where she learned all about the “elephant” of surprise that can be found in most stories. Despite her father’s correction to “element,” Chicken is convinced of the accuracy of her memory and the two sit down together to seek out the hidden elephant in three well-known fairy tales. Surprisingly, Chicken makes unexpected discoveries that support her belief, adding a delightful new layer to traditional literary analysis. Designed in much the same way as the first book in this series, this continuation shows increased maturity both in design and in illustrative style. Sharper lines enhance the rich colors used in each image, and the playful text stands out clearly from the accompanying visuals. Soft shading and deep mahogany hues give Chicken’s house a cozy feeling. Many of the illustrations depict more than the text itself describes, which increases the visual appeal of this story. Readers will recognize the endearing misunderstanding of the phrase “element of surprise” and will forever remember its meaning.
VERDICT Through a combination of traditional picture-book stylings, Stein’s iconic illustrations, and additional hand drawings and speech bubbles, this story has a dynamic that elementary school-age readers will love.

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