Thursday, June 4, 2009

Sweet Hen Story

Daisy Comes Home 

This is a classic journey adventure story where Daisy the hen accidentally (on purpose?) leaves home. Daisy learns how to defend herself out in the wild and uses those lessons to her advantage when she returns. Readers will root for the underdog, when all the other hens gang up on to pick upon Daisy, not allowing her to sleep with any kind of comfort. As anyone who has raised hens will know, this is another realistic touch.

Jan Brett altered the look of her traditionally busy borders that often tell a counterpoint to the main story. Here she uses two diagonal corner posts to frame the action of the main story. Each is beautifully detailed with designs based on Chinese weaving or pottery.
Mei-mei, the little girl, is a mother figure to her hens and the story has a very nice conversational tone. One of the most charming features of this book is that even though Daisy the hen may be anthropomorphic in her behavior and feelings, visually she keeps her hen-like qualities throughout. Daisy's face and body posture convey so much feeling, without ever seeming to step away from how a real hen would carry herself.

The watercolor and gouache paintings render incredibly rich colors and Brett provides a high level of detail. Alert readers will notice the animals from the signs of the Chinese Zodiac hidden amongst the green plateau-like hills in the background. This volume will be a welcome addition to the pantheon of books involving how to deal with school bullies. Brett certainly seems to owe a debt to The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack, but I saw a strong similarity to The Cow Who Fell in the Canal by Phyllis Krasilovsky as well. All the little details included in the illustrations make this a good choice for sharing one-on-one with a child.

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