Little Chicken & Little Fox by Brigitte Sidjanski, with lovely illustrations by Sarah Emmanuelle Burg, is a sweet story of compassion and friendship. When winter arrived this year, I was excited to pull this book off the shelf and add it to my stack of storytime selections. At the beginning of the story, Little Chicken is snuggled in her nest inside a warm chicken coop when she hears a tapping at the door. It is poor Little Fox, who is lost and freezing out in a snowstorm. The other chickens are afraid to let Little Fox enter the coop because foxes eat chickens, but Little Chicken decides to jump out the window and help him find shelter for the night. The next day the two friends set off to find Little Fox’s parents. Though the animals they meet along the way remind Little Chicken that it’s dangerous to spend time with a fox, she nonchalantly ignores these warnings, feeling she can’t abandon her companion. Readers will be very curious to find out whether Little Fox is a true friend, or whether he is leading Little Chicken into a trap.
Sidjanski keeps the story lively through the use of lots of dialogue and frequent setting changes. On their journey, Little Chicken and Little Fox meet a variety of animals, including wild pigs and a badger. When I read this book aloud to groups, I enjoy inviting my listeners to identify the more unusual animals. The tale isn’t especially humorous, but last time I read it aloud some of my listeners laughed at a few plot events, including Little Chicken jumping on top of a deer’s head. Little Chicken & Little Fox has some exciting parts, but overall it’s a quiet, heartwarming tale. This book could be effectively used for contrast during a read-aloud session filled with more boisterous stories. Burg’s soft illustrations were created using pencil and watercolors. The animals are very appealing and expressive. Burg’s fuzzy outlines and color choices make some of the illustrations quite low-contrast. This characteristic of the pictures means that they might be difficult for very young children to see clearly. I recommend this story as a group read-aloud for kindergarten and up. It could also work well with one preschooler, or with a group of preschoolers with abridgment of the wordier pages. Since it is set in a snowy landscape but does not mention any holidays, this sweet story is a great read-aloud all winter long.
Check the WRL catalog for Little Chicken & Little Fox.