I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

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Laura Gehl (text), Sarah Horne (illus.), I Got a Chicken for My Birthday, Walker Books Australia, 1 May 2018, 32pp.,  $24.99 (hbk),  ISBN: 9781512431308

In this delightful story that begs to be read aloud, the text and illustrations work in gorgeous unison to tell a hilariously wacky story.

Ana’s grandmother gives her a chicken for her birthday. Ana really wanted tickets to an amusement park, but now she’s stuck with a chicken instead. She tries to see the bright side; at least a chicken is a bit more exciting than socks and underwear, and she does love scrambled eggs.

But the chicken has other ideas. It holds up a picket-sign declaring ‘Sorry, no time for laying eggs!’ The chicken has a shopping list, containing things like screws, nails, steel girders, bowling balls and sheep. Now the chicken is wearing a yellow hard-hat and gets busy working on some blueprints!

A construction site begins to form in Ana’s backyard, and soon the chicken has recruited a dog, a cat and a hamster to help him complete his project. Ana watches on in awe, and invites her grandmother to visit, before a big reveal where Ana learns the delightfully surprising results of the chicken’s grand plans.

This is a wonderfully madcap story, with plenty of repetition to make it a particularly fun read-aloud. The funny, cartoon-style illustrations play a crucial part in the story-telling, and there are plenty of images – a chicken wearing a hardhat and a hamster driving an excavator – that will have children howling with laughter. The bold, vibrant colours add to the fun of the story.

Reviewed by Melinda Allan

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