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Monday, March 4, 2013

Prairie Chicken Little: The Sky is Falling! Again!

Contest closed. Sorry!
In a funny and frenetic remake of the traditional tale, Prairie Chicken Little by Jackie Mims Hopkins chronicles the over-reaction of one prairie chicken who thinks the sky is falling, or more accurately, a stampede is coming!

Listen to this text's unique voice as the story begins:

Out on the grasslands where bison roam, Mary McBlicken the prairie chicken was scritch-scratching for her breakfast, when all of a sudden she heard a rumbling and a grumbling and a tumbling.

"Oh, no!" she exclaimed. "A stampede's a comin'! I need to hightail it back to the ranch to tell Cowboy Stan and Red Dog Dan. They'll know what to do."

So away Mary ran, lickety-splickety, as fast as her little prairie chicken legs could carry her.

The onomatopoeia, the rhymes, and the word choice (such as "hightail it") combine to create a voice that matches both the book's setting and its levity. 

The book's fun is well supported by Henry Cole's splendid pictures. You might recall seeing his handiwork in Three Hens and a Peacock, mentioned here in a previous post. To me, Henry Coles' work is Audubon meets Looney Tunes. His animals are faithfully rendered in the physical sense, but with a personality and pluck that embodies them with all-too-human emotions. I particularly love that he gets us up close and personal with each animal, making the images seem larger than the book itself.

  • In the event that your students are studying other ecosystems such as as rain forests or polar regions, you could adapt this idea, challenging students to create a crisis or calamity, as well as appropriate creatures who would help spread the word. It's a pretty cool way to synthesize students' collection of random facts from a unit into a creative response. Can't you just see a penguin or a toucan as the main character? The book Loony Little: An Environmental Tale by Dianna Hutts Aston does just that for the Arctic region.
  • Fractured Fairy Tales are an all time favorite for kids to read, and they're fun to write as well. A recent post at the Peachtree Publishing blog provides some great titles to get you started.
  • Contrast Prairie Chicken Little with other books of this genre such as Chicken Little by Rebecca and Ed Emberly, Chachalaca Chiquita by Melanie Chrismer, Earthquack by Margie Palatini, and The Rumor: A Jataka Tale by Jan Thornhill.  
  • Try some other fun animal activities! Lots to choose from in my previous Animal Attraction post.
  • Have students research any of the animals from Prairie Chicken Little. Some of the real-life critters who populate this book sport some pretty amazing features. A good place to start? The Minnesota Prairie Chicken Society.


Jennifer Hughes said...

Visiting from KidLit. :-)

Renee C. said...

I see this book everywhere! That cover is so eye-catching! Is the giveaway only open to U.S.? Thanks for linking in the Kid Lit Blog Hop. :D

Cool Mom said...

Once again, I love your inclusion of extension activities.
Stopping by on the Kid Lit Blog Hop.

Keith Schoch said...

Thanks for visiting, Jenny!

Keith Schoch said...

Yes, Renee, only US! Sorry!

Keith Schoch said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cool Mom!