Wingin' It! Chicken Lily by Lori Mortenson
LILY WAS A LOT OF THINGS.
A CAREFUL COLORER, A PATIENT PUZZLER...
BUT LILY WAS SOMETHING ELSE....
Lily is a big chicken.
Oh, Lily is a charming petite little chick. She plays well with others. At recess games of hide-and-seek, she's the last one to be found, because...
SHE NEVER MADE A PEEP!
Although she always knows the answers to the teacher's questions, Lily never lifts a wing to be called on. She's strictly low-profile poultry. In the cafeteria Lily sticks to her little lunch sack of chicken feed while the others pig out on new foods. And as far as Lily is concerned, the training wheels are never coming off her bike.
And then one morning Mrs. Lop posts a notice that strikes terror in Lily's timid craw:
GRAND SLAM POETRY JAM!
Grab your pen and write, write, write.
Read your poem tomorrow night!
Some of Mrs. Lop's pupils are energized by the challenge, but poor Lily nearly molts at the thought. What if she is too mortified to recite? Will she chicken out? Will she stand in front of everyone with egg on her face? What if her recitation lays an egg?
SHE WISHED SHE COULD FLY THE COOP!
But in the best tradition of story book heroines, Lily finds the courage at last to strut her stuff in Lori Mortenson's latest, Chicken Lily (Henry Holt and Company, 2016). Mortenson gives free-range to some wonderful wordplay, laying out a bunch of good groaners, letting almost no chicken cliche' go untouched in this tale of "chicken" Lily, who finally spreads her wings and finds her inner ham just in time. Artist Nina Crittenden populates the illustrations with some undeniably cute barnyard critters who sweetly egg the heroine on as her, er, pluck eventually comes home to roost.
While the plot itself will resonate more with shy Kindergarten and first-grade kids intimidated by their first show-and-tell experiences, more sophisticated primary readers will applaud the ample poultry wordplay, as author Mortenson lays out just about all the poultry puns in the boo and her protagonist puts that famously timid folk character Chicken Little to shame at last.