It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid” — or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well. Full of the same boisterous charm that made Interrupting Chicken so beloved by readers, this gleeful follow-up is sure to delight fans of stories, surprises, and elephants alike.
In the eponymous Chicken's post Caldecott Honor book, she learns something new in school: "Every story has an elephant of surprise." Papa whose bright red crest and spade-shaped feet match Chicken's gently explains that it's element, not elephant. To demonstrate, Papa reads "The Ugly Duckling." The storybook open on Papa's lap, Stein's art transforms from the smudgy, warm tones of the cozy reading nook to a pastoral storybook scene rendered in pen and ink. As the Ugly Duckling is about to glimpse his reflection, a page turn introduces a blue elephant wearing wings: "Surprise! I'm an elephant!" The elephant returns in readings of "Rapunzel" (with thick braids) and "The Little Mermaid" (sporting a bikini). A final story written by Papa and illustrated by Chicken demonstrates that, despite Papa's best efforts, the "elephant of surprise" is here to stay. Stein masterfully builds suspense with each imbedded story, for a gag that only gets more fun with each reveal. Ages 4 8. \n
Laughed so hard I cried!