by Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert, illustrations by Julie Paschkis. Henry Holt and Company, 2003.
I read this story to my first graders yesterday and they clapped when it was over. They were delighted with the cleverness of Mrs. Chicken. She is vain and foolish in the beginning of the story, trying to see her own beautiful reflection in the river. She gets caught by a hungry crocodile and is held captive. In desperation, to avoid being eaten Mrs. Chicken insists that she and Mrs. Crocodile are sisters. The problem is she has to come up with a way to convince Mrs. Crocodile while she fattens her up. With a delightful plan she is able to prove herself just in time and even manages to go home with all her chicks intact.
This is a funny story that has just the right amount of tension and a satisfying ending. When I read the part where Mrs. Chicken says the two are sisters the class burst out laughing. The children just loved the incongruency. They were waiting on the edge of their chairs to find out how she would show that it was true. I think they were a little bit unsure about whether there was a scientific explanation, in spite of all they know about animals. When they saw how cleverly Mrs. Chicken tricks Mrs. Crocodile they were delighted.
Julie Paschkis teamed up with Won-Lyd Paye on a couple other books which I also enjoy. Her illustrations are bright and bold. Their dramatic colors are well balanced with simplicity, moving the story along without overwhelming the text.
I have previously posted about another Won-Ldy Paye book (Head, Body, Legs). I really love his story telling. He is from Liberia and learned the art of storytelling from his grandmother. I highly recommend all his books.