My new favorite NYC city book!
Sara Varon's clever story of two friends exploring the city is a delight. In Chicken and Cat, Cat comes to live with his friend Chicken. At first, Cat is put off. He sees gray buildings, trash on the street, rats and (gasp!) dogs. But Chicken shows Cat some of the delights of the city, such as biking to Central Park, riding the F Train to Coney Island, and relaxing in a row boat. And yet... Cat is still dissatisfied with the view from his window. Spotting a daffodil in a storefront sparks and idea and Cat and Chicken get to work improving the view. After some hard work, there are smiles all around.
Varon tells her story with wordless, comics style illustrations. I was charmed by seemingly small details such as the dotted line leading from Cat's eyes to the things he didn't like seeing, the steaming cup of coffee in Central Park, a nametag on the shopkeeper (I have a feeling that the names on shops are an inside joke) and Chicken's sunburn. At Coney Island, it is amusing that Chicken and Cat wear full body swim suits, while at all other times they tour the city in their birthday suits - although Cat mysteriously has pockets! Fortunately Varon's illustrative style is expressive, witty and playful without being saccharine.
The story is set in New York City, with local references but this charming story of friendship, cooperation and inspiration will appeal to all kids from city or country.
Read the sequel, Chicken and Cat Clean Up, in which Chicken and Cat have adventures while working for their cleaning service business. It's a fun sequel.
Visit the author's site, Chickenopolis.
Read a great, thorough review (with more illustrations) at Every Day Is Like Wednesday.
Big Kid says: The Chicken didn't put on sunscreen!
Little Kid says: That's the J Train.