About the Holiday
As kids go back to school and interact with other students, teachers, coaches, group leaders, and others, this month is dedicated to the kinds of manners that promote good relationships and cohesive gatherings. Thinking about others and how your actions will affect them is part of being a great friend, teammate, or participant in any activity. Family life with parents and siblings is also better when everyone treats each other with good manners. So this month (and afterward) remember to say “please, thank you, you’re welcome, may I” and all the rest of the polite words!
By David Ezra Stein
It’s time for a certain little red chicken to go to sleep, and Papa is about to plunk his chick into bed when the subject of a bedtime story comes up. Papa agrees to read one of his daughter’s favorites—after being reassured that she won’t interrupt the story tonight. “‘Oh no, Papa. I’ll be good,’” she says.
So Papa opens Hansel and Gretel and begins to read. He’s related that Hansel and Gretel were very hungry and that while out in the woods they found a house made of candy. “Nibble, nibble, nibble; they began to eat the house, until the old woman who lived there came out” and invited the children in. “They were just about to follow her when—”… the little chicken can’t help herself: “Out jumped a little red chicken, and she said, ‘DON’T GO IN! SHE’S A WITCH!’ So Hansel and Gretel didn’t. THE END!”
Papa peers over the top of his story book and he and his daughter give each other a long look. “‘Chicken.’” “‘Yes, Papa?’” “‘You interrupted the story. Try not to get so involved.’” “‘I’m sorry, Papa. But she really was a witch.’” Papa understands, but he also tells little chicken that she should relax and try to fall asleep. His daughter agrees to be good if he reads another story.
Papa turns the page to Little Red Riding Hood. He reads about how Little Red Riding Hood’s mother gave her a basket of goodies to take to Grandma and warns her about the dangers in the woods. “By and by she met a wolf who wished her ‘Good Morning.’ She was about to answer when—”…the little avid reader can’t help herself again! “Out jumped a little red chicken, and she said, ‘DON’T TALK TO STRANGERS!’ So little Red Riding Hood didn’t. THE END!”
Papa puts the story book down and gazes into his daughter’s wide-awake eyes. She apologizes for interrupting a second time and suggests “one more little story” and promises to behave. Papa picks a most appropriate story for the third go-around: Chicken Little. He starts off with the unfortunate event when Chicken Little is hit on the head by an acorn and mistakenly thinks that the sky is falling. “She was about to run off and warn Goosey Loosey, Ducky Lucky, Henny Penny, and everyone on the farm the sky was falling when—”…the little chicken loses control yet again. “Out jumped the little red chicken, and SHE said, ‘DON’T PANIC! IT WAS ONLY AN ACORN.’ So Chicken Little didn’t. THE END!”
Papa is now flat out tired and—even though his little chick hugs him and vows that with only one more story she’ll fall asleep—out of stories. Little chicken exclaims, “‘Oh no, Papa. I can’t go to sleep without a story!’” Yawning, Papa suggests that his daughter tell him a story. She grabs her notebook and crayons and begins. “Bedtime for Papa by CHiKn Once there was a little red chicken who put her Papa to bed. She read him a hundred stories. She even gave him warm milk, but nothing worked: he stayed wide awake all—”
Suddenly, the sounds of snoring interrupt her storytelling. She looks up from her page to find her father fast asleep in her bed. She pats him on the head “‘Good night, Papa.’” she whispers before finally falling asleep herself.
David Ezra Stein’s Caldecott Honor book is a hilarious retelling of the nightly bedtime story scene in so many households. One story just isn’t enough, and familiar stories just beg to be finished by excited little voices. The father/daughter relationship in Interrupting Chicken is sweet and endearing, as the day-weary dad reads story after story and his daughter chimes in. Any parent or caregiver has gazed at their little charge in just the way Papa does, and they have all received the same knowingly innocent eyes back.
Stein’s glowing blue, green, and red illustrations of the adorable little chicken with her very tall comb tucked into bed and her father’s equally as long comb and waddles, cozy bathrobe and slippers will make kids fall in love with this duo. The stories Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood, and Chicken Little are cleverly depicted in vintage black, brown, and white hues that are brilliantly interrupted by the little chicken and her well-timed warnings. In each even the original stories’ characters react to being so “rudely interrupted” and are left with dubious expressions as our little heroine saves the day.
Animated readings (there’s no way you’ll get away with just one!) will make Interrupting Chicken one of the favorite books on your child’s bookshelf.
Ages 4 – 8
Candlewick Press, 2010 | ISBN 978-0763641689
Don’t’ interrupt this funny book trailer!
Children’s Good Manners Month Activity
Good Manners Matter! Word Search
Picture Book Review