Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise, David Ezra Stein, Walker Books, 2018, isbn 9781406378061, Hb, $24.99
Chicken has been learning at school about the elephant of surprise in every story she will read.
Her Papa quickly explains that the teacher must have meant the element of surprise in every good story which is when something happens that the reader did not expect.
Not to be disappointed Chicken is certain that the three stories she needs to read with her Papa for homework will have an elephant in them! Although her Papa does not agree.
And so the first story Chicken chooses from their bookcase is the story of the Ugly Duckling. As far as most people who know this fairytale there are no elephants in this story, and so it seems to be the case here as we begin to read the story along with Chicken and Papa. Stein has inserted the scene where the Ugly Duckling is accepted by the swans…and then we turn the page and sure enough there is a massive element, eh, elephant of surprise for us and I think for Papa too!
The next story Chicken gets down from the bookcase is the tale of Rapunzel and the scene we begin to read is when the Prince climbs Rapunzel’s hair up the tower wall. Will there be another element of surprise here? And what of the third book Chicken needs to read for her homework? You will have to read this hilariously original book to find out.
There is one more story that after the three fairy tales Papa decides to tell Chicken. Chicken offers to draw the pictures to this one even though Papa assures her there will be no elephants in his story.
The resulting new story by Papa and Chicken is a delightful elephant of a surprise!
This book written and illustrated by Stein is such a fun book to read. It does however require a certain knowledge of fairy tales for the full humour to be appreciated, although in saying this children are not stupid and will still see the fun side to the stories within the story.
I love the illustrations that are whimsical and warm and make you want to sit down and read the book cover to cover. I am not sure why there are roses at the beginning and end of the story, maybe they are Chicken’s favourite flower? I would like to have known the significance for my own curiosity.