I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday

By:  Gehl, Laura
Horne, Sarah

$25.99 Hardback
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Lerner Publishing Group

Limited ***

9.3 X 11.0 in
32 pg

JUVENILE FICTION / Animals / Farm Animals
JUVENILE FICTION / Holidays & Celebrations / Birthdays
JUVENILE FICTION / Humorous Stories

All the birthday girl wants from her Abuela is a ticket to the amusement park. Instead, she gets a chicken. But this chicken is no ordinary chicken; it has plans! With a lot of hard work, and help from other animals, this chicken may just end up granting the girl the best birthday gift ever.

"Though Ana had asked her Abuela Lola for amusement park tickets for her birthday, she receives a chicken instead. Disappointed but good-natured, Ana reasons that the fowl is a better gift than socks or underwear—and she does like scrambled eggs. But her chicken has other plans in mind: after making a long and eclectic shopping list (items include a cement mixer, fireworks, and 85 rubber ducks), the chicken recruits Ana's pets to help with a secret construction project. Gehl's matter-of-fact narration, built around repetition of the title, offers a dry contrast to the outlandish goings-on. The chicken, who communicates solely via written placards, eventually directs Ana to send for her Abuela, who arrives via bulldozer to help reveal the amusement park that the chicken has built. Filled with splashy colors and textures, Horne's mixed-media pictures playfully fiddle with perspective and scale while including details that step up the fun: the seats on the roller-coaster are giant eggshells, and Abuela Lola rocks a purple updo. An oddball birthday tale with heart."—Publishers WeeklyJournal

"What's wrong with Abuela Lola? Our birthday girl asked her three times for amusement-park tickets, and you know what? Abuela sent her a take-charge chicken styling yellow construction boots instead! If that isn't bad enough, the tool-belt-wearing denizen of the barnyard has subverted all the pig-tailed Latina's pets. Not a one has time for cake, no one wants to play, and everyone is ignoring the aggrieved narrator. To make matters worse, the chicken (via imperative-clause picket signs) demands that Abuela travel posthaste to the child's backyard. Dogs wearing hard hats, birds hoisting girders, grandmas operating bulldozers—has the world gone mad? Gehl's sparsely worded wink to Anne Isabella Ritchie's evolving axiom, 'Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for life,' is made into a masterpiece by Horne's distinctive and humorously sly illustrations. The raucous colors pop against the wry, understated refrain, "I got a chicken for my birthday." Practically every clever detail begs to be the center of attention. Is the chicken's scrolled supply list with the sneakily embedded song lyrics the pièce de résistance, or is it the hamster powering the monstrous Ferris wheel? Visual puns compete with subtle tweaks to the funny bone, and each deserves to be savored in its own right. Either Horne was in Gehl's pocket or vice versa, because this utterly seamless blend of story and art is an ingenious treat for all ages."—starred, Kirkus ReviewsJournal

"Though she hopes to get amusement-park tickets for her birthday, the young narrator of this fanciful tale instead gets a chicken. But this bird, who has no time for eating or laying eggs, is no run-of-the-mill fowl. It develops a project, requiring a long list of items and the help of many friends. This project is slowly shown to be an amusement park. Although the story is slight, it is creatively told. The facts are revealed in a low-key repetitive text, and the words are kept to a minimum, all of the humor and action in the brightly colored illustrations. The narration moves slowly along, with the title inserted on every other double-page spread. The illustrations show the pleasantly plump, dark-feathered, needle-headed chicken industriously scurrying about to build the amusement park. Many characters—mostly animals—are brought in to help build, including the other household pets and the human family. This chicken story is definitely as good as a ticket to an amusement park, maybe better."—Booklist

Laura Gehl is senior editor of the award-winning educational periodical Science Weekly. Laura's best ideas come from her four young children. Her previous books include And Then Another Sheep Turned Up and Hare and Tortoise Race Across Israel. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.


Sarah Horne grew up in snowy Derbyshire, UK, with some goats and a brother. She now draws, paints, and writes from underneath a pile of paper at her studio in London.