cover image Chicken Joy on Redbean Road: A Bayou Country Romp

Chicken Joy on Redbean Road: A Bayou Country Romp

Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $17 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-618-50759-7

Martin (Banjo Granny) and Sweet (Carmine) journey to the land of ""Laissez les bons temps rouler"" for a story of how zydeco music saves a rooster from the chopping block. A case of chicken measles has left the poor ""roo"" without a crow, prompting his ""nothing but practical"" owner to declare that ""a roo who won't wake the barnyard is headed for stew-quiet rooster stew."" A frantic brown hen, Miss Cleoma, believes all the roo needs is a dose of ""music so good he'll remember to sing"" and she hops off to recruit the finest fiddler in St. Cecilia Parish for a barnyard bal de maison. This is a somewhat bumpy effort on a few fronts. Martin's Cajun-inflected prose occasionally bogs down with colorful atmosphere. Though Sweet's human characters are a bit bland (the roo's savior falls far short of the build-up he's given), her barnyard creatures-Miss Cleoma in particular-brim with verve. The text makes for a lively read-aloud and there's much to savor in Sweet's quirky, roughhewn mixed media pictures. She cooks up a rich gumbo of perspectives and framings, and her comically expressive poultry cast should have youngsters clucking right up until the roo emits a triumphant ""Qwerk-beaucoup-a-doodle-doo!"" Ages 4-8.