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Banned Books Week


After waking up to the sounds of our crowing hen, I see that I need to consider the obvious. Here are several entertaining picture books on the subject of roosters.

Fans of Verna Aardema's Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears and Judy Sierra's "Toontoony Bird" will appreciate Alma Flor Ada's 1993 book The Rooster Who Went to His Uncle's Wedding: A Latin American Folktale. A handsome guy with mud on his beak can't get a soul—not the grass, not the river—to help him clean up. When the rooster meets a stick, he asks, "Dear stick, hard stick,/please hit the dog/that won't bite the lamb/that won't eat the grass/that won't clean my beak/so that I can go to my uncle's wedding." This kind of story is called a cumulative tale, and its repetitions, not to mention talking sticks and rivers, are sure to delight the read-aloud crowd. The Rooster was written by Alma Flor Ada, and illustrated in vivid colors by Kathleen Kuchera. The roo himself looks like an Aztec god.

Cover-3 A new book based on an old tale, The Rooster Prince of Breslov, is another keeper. When their spoiled son throws off his clothes and begins to peck the ground for crumbs, his royal parents panic. They call in magicians and a doctor ("the most serious case roosterism I've ever seen"), but finally put their trust in an unassuming old man. His trick is to empathize rather than punish. (A parable for parents, no doubt.) The frail fellow catches the boy's interest by crowing and asking if he minds sharing his corn. The author, Ann Redisch Stampler, writes in an afterword that her grandmother used to tell her a version of this Yiddish folktale. Eugene Yelchin's pictures expand the story's strange and ultimately reassuring events.

A while back I reviewed Bob, a fabulously funny picture book (and cumulative tale) starring a rooster. From a 2007 post: "Bob is in search of a voice—a crow, in fact. But how to? The path to cock-a-doodle-do-dom takes some twists before he finds the ideal instruction."

Indiana's Allen County Public Library shares a good long list of cumulative-tale picture books.

Works mentioned

Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears: A West African Tale. Dial Press, 1975.

Ada, Alma Flor. The Rooster Who Went to His Uncle's Wedding. Illustrated by Kathleen Kulchera. Whitebird/Putnam, 1993.

Pearson, Tracey Campbell. Bob. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2002.

Sierra, Judy. "The Toontoony Bird," from Silly & Sillier: Read-Aloud Tales from Around the World. Illustrated by Valeri Gorbachev. Knopf, 2002.

Stampler, Ann Redisch. The Rooster Prince of Breslov. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. Clarion Books, 2010.


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As long as they're not mean (as some of ours have been), I love roosters!

Loretta I, a sweet chick, got ugly-acting as he got older, flying at our heads and stuff like that. This one, Loretta II, is moving back to his hometown soon. I'm going to get him in the middle of the night from the coop; otherwise I wouldn't be able to catch him. He is turning into quite a beauty.

I grew up around chickens... I kind of miss them, although our rooster was a very ornery creature!
Thanks for that link for cumulative stories, I'll definitely check that out.

Madigan, I have three backyard chickens, including two new ones who were supposed to be hens. I have to return Loretta, though. Unlike our one sweet hen, he has always been sort of skittish, so I really don't mind taking him back.

I was delighted to read your reference to my book The rooster who went to his uncle's wedding. The tale was a favorite of my own children and has been a favorite of many children. Now it is out of print, but can still be obtained from DelSolBooks who specializes in my work and that of Isabel Campoy and Suni Paz. And, now there is also a new edition of The rooster... both in a small format and a Big Book format, illustrated by Claudia Legnazzi and published by Frog Street.
Again thanks for the reference to this beloved book, and my best wishes to all who read these words, Alma Flor Ada

Thanks so much for stopping by! I was delighted to discover The Rooster Who Went to His Uncle's Wedding at my local library. I read with first graders, and they're going to love it!

Just what I needed - my mum has recently started keeping chickens and I'm on the look out for some books for her (she too loves picture books so that ok!). Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke has to be my favourite chicken book.

Zoe, our chicken coop is from the UK originally--it's an Eglu by a company called Omelet. One of these days I'm going to publish a list of the chicken books I've written about here; Minerva Louise is a favorite at our house, too.

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