Monday, April 13, 2015

Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Mims Hopkins, illustrations by Henry Cole

While out on the plains, Mary McBlicken the prairie chicken hears the sounds of what she thinks is an oncoming stampede. She immediately rushes to warn two of her friends, Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan. Along her way, Mary runs into several other creatures and they ask about her dilemma. She warns them of the potential stampede and they, in turn, join Mary’s warning party. But a bigger problem comes to Mary’s group when the overly eager coyote, Slim Brody, shows them his personal shortcut to Stan and Dan, by way of his den.

Hopkins story is a witty and fun re-imagining of Chicken Little. In her twist of the well-known tale, Hopkins sets the stage on the Great Plains highlighting several animals found in that region: bison, prairie chickens, meadowlarks, jack rabbits, prairie dogs, and coyotes. In Cole’s watercolor, colored pencil, and ink illustrations, Cole gives the book’s characters added spunk, personality, and quirkiness, which amps up the story’s humor. But in Cole’s backgrounds, he adds in bugs, plants, and flowers also found in the Heartland region. For these reasons, Prairie Chicken Little can be a excellent resource for introducing children to the Great Plains.

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