________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 8 . . . . December 10, 2004


For Sure! For Sure!

Hans Christian Andersen. Translated by Mus White. Illustrated by Stefan Czernecki.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2004.
32 pp., cloth, $22.95.
ISBN 1-896580-62-9.

Subject Heading:
Fairy tales.

Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.

Review by Dave Jenkinson.

*** /4


"It's a shocking story!" clucked one chicken who lived in the section of town where the scandal didn't take place. "It's a hideous thing that happened in the chicken coop! I'm afraid to sleep alone tonight! It's a lucky thing that so many of us sit close together on this perch!" Then she told a tale that made the feathers of the other chickens stand straight up and the rooster's comb down. It's true, for sure!

internal artOriginally written by Hans Christian Andersen in 1852 and entitled "Det er ganske vist" in Danish, the title of this short tale, which was included in Andersen's Fairy Tales, has been variously translated as "There is No Doubt About It" and "It's Quite True." In this new translation, by Mus White, the Andersen tale gets yet another name, but the story remains essentially true to the original. A hen, having plucked a feather from her body, finds the effect to be quite becoming and jokingly says so aloud. Her comment is overheard by a neighboring roosting chicken who passes it on to her neighbour in an amplified and modified form. In turn, that conversation is overheard by an owl and so the tale grows as it's transmitted across the town by various flying creatures such as doves and bats, with each retelling escalating the original happening, until it returns to the original hen as the story of five chickens who plucked out all their feathers to prove their love for the flock's rooster and who then pecked each other to death. The hen, not recognizing her own story, takes it to the newspapers so that it can be printed as a warning to other chickens.

     While collections may already have other versions of this tale, it is Stefan Czernecki's illustrations which will set this version apart from others. He has illustrated the tale with very simple, but brightly coloured art that is most appropriate for younger audiences, especially in how the varying emotions of the winged characters have been captured by Czernecki's illustrations. As well, he has presented his images in panels that function almost like frames of a movie while also suggesting the forward movement of the story. Czernecki has subtly imbedded the tale's national roots by incorporating the Danish flag into one of the illustrations.


Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and adolescent literature at the Faculty of Education, the University of Manitoba.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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