Sunday, January 20, 2019

Storycraft Lesson? Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein

Who doesn't love storybook elephants? But this is ridiculous!

Little Red Chicken can't wait to tell Papa what amazing thing she learned at school!

"Papa, today our teacher told us every story has a elephant of surprise. So let's read a story and we'll find the elephant!"

"Chicken, she wasn't talking about an elephant," said Papa.

"She was talking about the element of surprise!"

Papa carefully explains the literary device, but Little Red is too excited about the fun of finding elephants to pay attention. She pulls out the story of "The Ugly Duckling." Papa shrugs and goes along with the elephant hunt and lets Little Red Chicken begin to read.

..."The duckling walks into the water and says, "Surprise! I'm an elephant!'"

Papa resists, insisting there's no elephant in that story. But Little Red insists with the irrefutable line parents dread, "My teacher said...!"

Rapunzel turns out to be an elephant with long braids. The Little Mermaid grows elephant legs.

"Chicken, this is SILLY," pronounces Papa Chicken.

There's an elephant of surprise in every story all right, in David Ezra Stein's Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise (Candlewick Books, 2018). The witty Stein's devoutly comedic story and charmingly comic illustrations hit the sweet spot of silliness, the same one as his Caldecott Honor first book, Interrupting Chicken, achieved, a new high in witty interchanges between parent and child, full of giggles and camaraderie. Says Kirkus Reviews, "Little Chicken is back, and her metafictive editorial impulses are as strong as ever.... Fans of the two loving characters will be delighted to see them again. Unsurprisingly good."

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