Imagine that you’re a chicken who lives in a picture book, and your book is almost finished, but not quite.

That’s the lively recipe for disaster in Deborah Freedman’s clever new picture book, Blue Chicken. The stage is set on the first pages: “The chickens are white, their coop is brown . . . and this day is perfect for painting the barn.”

One chicken does what any curious chicken (or child) would do: He decides to help. Freedman’s illustrations are full of fun as the helpful chicken climbs on top of a pot of blue paint and peers over the rim. On the next page, the pot overturns, sending blue paint everywhere. The paint explosion grows, seeming to spill off each page. Young readers will adore watching the white chicken turn blue, and seeing a yellow cat and yellow chicks frolic in the mess, splashing amidst the chaos. Soon, a red wheelbarrow and a cow are also covered in blue.

The entire barnyard begins to blame the curious chicken, who succinctly says, “Sincerely sorry.” Spying a jar filled with water and paintbrushes, he decides to try to undo his mess. Of course, much more splattering fun ensues, but the water does the trick, turning everything back as it was, leaving the sky a perfect shade of pale blue. Indeed, the chicken has helped!

Freedman’s spare text is the perfect accompaniment for this ruckus, making it a book that a wide range of young readers will pore over time and time again, taking in the humor and paint-splattered fun on every page.

In an artful accompaniment throughout the book, readers catch glimpses of the artist who is creating this picture book. She happens to be painting her own backyard barn. Meanwhile, our roving chicken has also gotten into a new pot of barnyard red paint. . . .

While the artist is away, the chickens will indeed play, and Deborah Freedman has captured their antics in this book overflowing with joyful fun.

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