April 11, 2016
Chicken Lily by Lori Mortensen, illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden
by Lori Mortensen
illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden
Henry Holt and Company
Lily was a lot of things. She was super careful when she colored. And super good and putting together puzzles. And super quiet when she played hide-and-seek. She was also a little chicken.
Hey! I’m not being mean. That’s Lily at the center of the cover.
The problem was that she was also afraid to try new things from new foods to riding without her training wheels. And then Miss Lop put up a poster. The class was going to participate in a poetry slam. The entire class.
Lily tried to come up with excuses but Miss Lop wasn’t having any part of it. Neither were Lily’s friends. With so many other people believing in her, Lily came to believe in herself.
In some picture books with animals characters, the animals act like what they are. Bunnies hop, sheep baa and cats chase mice. In this book, the bunny is the school teacher and the other animals are stand-ins for real kids. That can be helpful when you’re talking about fear and things that worry people. Young readers who may identify with the character have a bit more distance from the story. It gives them a bit of wiggle room to appreciate what is going on instead of just worrying about what their alter ego is experiencing.
Crittenden’s watercolor, pen and ink illustrations are engaging but also cartoony enough to make the readers smile. That said, they characters are still plenty expressive so readers will know when Lily is standing firm and when she’s at least a little bit worried.
Share this book with your class and use it as a jumping off point for discussing encouraging classmates who may have reservations about a particular activity. Share it with the young reader in your life who takes a moment or ten to warm up to something new. And be sure to share it with readers who simply enjoy sweet stories about characters who are finding their way in the world.