Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken

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Louise, The Adventures of a Chicken has a lot going for it. First of all, it's three really short stories in one and generous pictures splashed over large pages. Ideal read aloud structure.

Then there is the fact that Kate DiCamillo penned the book (author of previously reviewed Mercy Watson to the Rescue).

DiCamillo is of much greater fame with many of her other books such as The Magician's Elephant, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane and Because of Winn-Dixie (none of which I have read so far, dare I admit!), among others. So far so good.

And then there are the illustrations. No one less than Harry Bliss (of Diary of a Worm, Diary of a Spider and Diary of a Fly fame) is responsible.

The hardback edition comes with a dust jacket and the book is very nicely sized, probably the perfect size for a read aloud. Then we come to the matter of the story.

The three chapters follow Louise's adventures at sea, in a circus and in a fabulous bazaar. All three follow the same pattern. Louise wishes for an adventure, adventure stares her in the eye, she grabs the chance and just as things get hairy, she escapes back to the chicken coop.

My qualms with the story involve some violent elements in story number one when Louise is about to be "fricasseed", fried or stewed by a bunch of violent-minded pirates.

Also, on one of the pages she floats past a drowning pirate who is below the surface, eerily looking up in the direction of the reader (or Louise) as the strong waters pull him down while his contorted lifeless facial features are still well visible in the cold grey-blue waters.

I was not looking forward to questions on this aspect of the book. Still too strong material for my three-year olds.

The schematic nature of the three stories never made me look forward to reading the book, while my kids never (save once) asked me to read it again.

Of course, I read it again several times over the past six months, but the effect was never different from the very first time I read it. Aside a couple of undeniably exciting moments - like when the circus lion escapes in Chapter 2 - most of the book fell flat in terms of the reaction of my readers.

I can't say I blame them too much.

What are your thoughts on Louise?

available from Amazon USA

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