Saturday, June 9, 2012

Book Bok! The Missing Chick, by Valeri Gorbachev

I was catching up on my Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast reading earlier this week, and came across an interview Jules did with author/illustrator Valeri Gorbachev at the end of March. The interview features abundant illustrations from quite a few of Gorbachev's picturebooks, including one I hadn't seen before, The Missing Chick. I had been searching for a way to return to Chicken Lit after a momentum-depleting absence, and I knew right away that The Missing Chick was my fluffy, yellow ticket back to my blog.

Mother Hen is happily hanging out the laundry with her brood when Mrs. Duck comes along and notices that one of Mother Hen's seven chicks in nowhere to be seen. A frantic, extensive search begins. Just as everyone is beginning to despair of ever finding the little lost chick, Mrs. Duck spots him nestled in the laundry basket, having just woken up from a nap. There is much jubilation and relief all around, and Mother Hen basks in the pleasure of things being back to normal. But... the last page of the story lets the reader know that this mama shouldn't get too relaxed, because that little chick just can't resist napping in hidden places.

There are so many irresistible things about this book, and I don't mean just its many adorable chickens. The first irresistible thing is the way the illustrations and text work together to invite young readers to count those cute little chicks. It's like a siren song for preschool children. Next on the irresistible list is the priceless image of the six non-missing chicks perched on their mother's ample backside as she looks under the table for their lost sibling. The clustered chicks are illustrated so perfectly that you can practically hear the chorus of their chirping. Perhaps at the top of the list, though, is the arrival of the community helpers, which is so clearly written expressly to delight and excite Gorbachev's young readers. When the police arrive there are a whole pack of uniformed officers, a tiny detective dressed like Columbo, cars with lots of flashing orange lights, and plenty of walkie talkies. When the firefighters arrive they come in "their big red truckwhich fills virtually the whole two page spread with its bigness and its redness. And then, as if that weren't enough to send preschoolers over the moon, a police helicopter shows up, just for good measure.

The Missing Chick is a lovingly and skillfully created crowd-pleaser. Its story is simple and satisfying, and its pictures are awash with sunlight and humor. I am thankful to this picturebook for its excellence as a book for 3 to 5-year-olds, and for its help getting me blogging again.