Written by Jean Van Leeuwen
Illustrated by David Gavril
Recommended Ages 3-6
I came across a new picture book by the mother/son team of Jean Van Leeuwen and David Gavril that will appeal to the preschool crowd. Chicken Soup is a cute story that is sure to please 4 and 5 year olds, especially when read aloud.
The story begins with a rumor flying around the barnyard that Mrs. Farmer has taken out the big pot, and she's going to be making chicken soup! While all the animals are in a dither about the news, the chickens, in particular, need to try and skedaddle out of there. And skedaddle they do, except for Little Chickie, who it appears has a cold in her beak. Chaos ensues while the chickens run away from Mr. Farmer all over the farm, with Little Chickie sniffing and sneezing her way at the rear. Of course, this has a happy ending, and all their worries are for naught. For as it turns out, Mrs. Farmer is making vegetable soup for poor, sick, Little Chickie.
What makes this a fun read aloud is all the sniffing, clomping and sneezing that goes on throughout the book. Young kids will have fun helping the reader with the sound effects. The watercolor illustrations are colorful and lively. Little Chickie, in particular, has a lot of personality and is quite endearing.
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
Written by Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Recommended Ages 3-8
After reading Chicken Soup, I just had to go and find my copy of another farm favorite Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type. If you haven't already read this, then run to the nearest bookstore or library and find it. If you have, well you might want to revisit it.
The story begins when Farmer Brown's cows discover a typewriter, and begin to use it to broadcast their needs:
"Dear Farmer Brown,
The barn is very cold at night. We'd like some electric blankets.
A strike begins as the farmer refuses to give in to the cows' demands, and the sound of click, clack, moo haunts him at every turn. It's a hilarious premise, made even funnier when a duck is brought in to mediate. The duck helps the farmer and the cows come to an agreement by exchanging the typewriter for the blankets, only to have a surprise twist at the end. The duck goes missing with the typewriter, and Farmer Brown gets a note demanding a diving board for the pond! This is one of those books that just seem to get better each time you read it. Be prepared to have to explain to your child what a typewriter is.
If you are looking for some other "farm animal" books, try these:
Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
Russell the Sheep by Rob Scotten
Dumpy La Rue by Elizabeth Winthrop
BookNosher Tidbits: Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type won a Caldecott medal in 2000. It was also recently made into a musical, and played off-Broadway this past summer. Here's a link to a review.
BookNosher Activities: You can have some great discussions with kids about how animals communicate their needs to the people around them (whining, barking, meowing, scratching at the door). Afterwards, have them write letters from a pet to an owner. Or if they are too young to write, have them dictate a letter to you. Kids enjoy hearing their words read back to them, and love to handle the finished result.