CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 17 . . . . April 29, 2005
Ami loves her hen better than me.
She calls her Bibi. I call her Silly.
She's always fussing over whether
I fed Bibi.
Rani has a bad case of sibling rivalry. Ami pays much more attention to her chicken, Bibi, than she does to her small daughter. Rani thinks Bibi is a ridiculous chicken with her long gangly legs and silly looking expression. She acts more like an old woman than a chicken, thinks Rani, following her mother all around the yard and even into the house. Doesn't the silly hen know that chickens belong in the yard? Then, when Bibi finally manages to lay an egg, Ami takes Rani's dress to make a nest for her. As soon as her mother's back is turned, Rani tells the silly chicken exactly what she would do with her: "I'd like to cook you up and eat you!" she whispers.
But a few days later, Bibi disappears, and Rani must take the blame for leaving the gate open. Her mother is sad and lonely, even though Rani tries to make her feel better by fussing over her and bringing her cold drinks. In the end, an unexpected miracle turns the story on its head, bringing a chuckle to readers of all ages.
An award-winning author and story teller, Rukhsana Khan has published six books for children, including the young adult novel Dahling, If You Luv Me, Would You Please, Please Smile which won the Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award in 2001. Her anthology entitled Muslim Child: Understanding Islam through Stories and Poems, published in 1999, was a Canadian Children's Book Centre "Our Choice" selection and won the Hackmatack Award in 2001 given by the Nova Scotia Library Association.
Silly Chicken takes an age-old theme, sets it in rural Pakistan and tells it from the point of view of a very young girl. Children of all ethnic groups will enjoy and empathize with poor Rani who has to play second fiddle to a chicken. Khan captures the voice of the young narrator completely believably. Yunmee Kyong's illustrations have a childlike exuberance to them. Her warm, bright colours bring to life the people and countryside of rural Pakistan.
Teachers and librarians will find Silly Chicken an enjoyable story to share with 5 to 8 year olds, one which will provide ample opportunities for discussion in this age group.
A retired teacher-librarian, Valerie Nielsen lives in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.