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Reviewed by:
  • Busy-Busy Little Chick by Janice N. Harrington
  • Jeannette Hulick
Harrington, Janice N.. Busy-Busy Little Chick; illus. by Brian Pinkney. Farrar, 2013. 32p. ISBN 978-0-374-34746-8 $15.99 R 5-7 yrs.

In this interpretation of "The Hen's House," a fable from the Nkundo people of Central Africa, Little Chick does all the work of building his family a much-needed new house while Mama Nsoso and his chick siblings spend each day chowing down instead. Evocative, repeated words and phrases, some in the Lonkundo language (the chicks peep "Peo-peo," Mama Nsoso goes "cwa-cwa-cwa" when she walks), help provide narrative structure for young listeners and enhance the readaloud value of the book. Little Chick's youthful enthusiasm is utterly charming and his determined work at the house is admirable—though surely some kids will feel he deserves more than a few crickets after all the work he's done. Pinkney's bold, slightly abstract illustrations vividly depict the chicks and hen in bright, swirly scrawls of golds and orangey-reds, accented with heavy, black brushstrokes around the contours of the figures. While the busyness of the scribbly lines is a little distracting up close, the little hen and chicks translate well to viewers at a distance. Overall, this is an entertaining, solidly constructed tale that many children will enjoy, and it could serve as a useful contrast to "The Little Red Hen" or Aesop's "The Ant and the Grasshopper." Harrington helpfully includes both a pronunciation guide and a thorough author's note describing her sources and her process for shaping the tale.



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