BOOKS: 'The Chicken Problem' fun, educationalPeg and her cat love solving problems. They also like pie. So when they sit down for a picnic with a pig and realize they have an extra piece of pie (a very tiny piece) they decide to invite a very tiny chicken to join them.
By: Jean Patrick, Republic Book Columnist
Peg and her cat love solving problems. They also like pie. So when they sit down for a picnic with a pig and realize they have an extra piece of pie (a very tiny piece) they decide to invite a very tiny chicken to join them.
But later, another problem surfaces: “One hundred chickens running wild.”
From this point, “The Chicken Problem,” by Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson, is not about pie. It’s about chickens. Lots of chickens.
“Chickens skipping! Chickens hopping! Chickens doing somersaults! Chickens standing on their heads! Chickens standing on each other’s heads!”
Peg chants wild rhymes, hoping to coax them back to their coop. But corralling one hundred chickens is hard work … until she finds out what chickens like best.
“The Chicken Problem” is a fun, rambunctious, read-aloud book, despite the disproportionate amount of time spent on pie.
It’s also a math book.
Readers can count the one hundred chickens as Peg rounds them up and brings them back to the coop. Readers can also interact with the page numbers. Instead of being numbered 3, 4 and 5, page numbers are listed as 2+1, 3+1 and 4+1, etc.
Meanwhile, the illustrations use a math motif. The clouds are infinity symbols. The flowers are division signs. The backdrop is faded graph paper with algebraic equations. However, these motifs are purely decorative, having no connection to the story.
One of the funniest parts of the book is the credit page. Oxley and Aronson thank the one hundred chickens for “posing so patiently for the pictures.” They list them by name, including Charles, Chickens, Wyatt Chirp, Barawk Obama and The Artist formerly Known as Chicken.
Keep an eye out for more about Peg + Cat. Jennifer Oxley is currently at work with Billy Aronson to create the Peg + Cat television series for PBS Kids.
“The Chicken Problem.” By Jennifer Oxley and Billy Aronson. Random House, 2012. 32 pp.