Genre: Folktale / Animals / Trickery
Year Published: 2003
Year Read: 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
After reading so many African folktales, I just recently picked up a children’s book called “Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile,” which was a folktale that originated in Northeastern Liberia in Africa and was written by Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert along with illustrations by Julie Paschkis. This book has also earned the Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book Award and I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised at this book’s witty premise!
When Mrs. Chicken is captured by a hungry crocodile, who threatens to eat her, Mrs. Chicken quickly comes up with a plan that could save her life…convince the crocodile that they are SISTERS!
Can Mrs. Chicken trick the Crocodile in order to save her life?
I was actually quite impressed with this book! I loved the fact that Won-Ldy Paye was trained by his grandmother to become a storyteller and the fact that he is from the Dan people of Northeastern Liberia, really put so much magic in this story as this story originated from the Dan people of Northeastern Liberia and the elements of Africa clearly shows in this story! I also loved the way that both Won-Ldy Paye and Margaret H. Lippert wrote the characters in this story as Mrs. Chicken is shown to be an extremely clever character as she tries to think of a plan to get out of being eaten by the crocodile! The crocodile was also a great character as she was truly menacing towards Mrs. Chicken in trying to eat her and I was practically on the edge of my seat hoping that Mrs. Chicken gets out of this predicament alive! Julie Paschkis’ illustrations were totally cute and colorful, especially of the image of Mrs. Chicken herself as she is brightly orange colored and has a rounded body that makes her adorable to look at.I also loved the image of the crocodile herself as she is green and she seems to have a checkerboard texture on her skin that really made her stand out in the story. I was also amazed at the fact that the crocodile’s body practically takes up most of the pages, giving her a truly menacing presence.
The reason why I gave this book a four star rating is because I felt that the illustrations were a bit too simplistic at certain points. As much as I enjoyed the story, I actually wished that the illustrations were a bit more detailed and not look too cartoonish so I could really feel the threat of the crocodile’s attempts at eating Mrs. Chicken. I also wished that there were more details being made in the backgrounds so I could have a real sense that the reader is really exploring Africa in this story.
Overall, “Mrs. Chicken and the Hungry Crocodile” is a great story for fans of African folktales and who love reading about clever animals escaping certain death! I would recommend this book to children ages five and up since the crocodile might scare smaller children.