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Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch: A Children's Book that Promotes Reading

I've written over 50 articles about children's literature for library, preschool or home settings. I have a BA in English Lit from BYU.

Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch Henrietta helps her friends avoid becoming the main course in this deliciously silly tale about a chicken who isn't, and the power of reading.

Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch Henrietta helps her friends avoid becoming the main course in this deliciously silly tale about a chicken who isn't, and the power of reading.

Reading Saves the Day

In SouperChicken by Mary Jane and Herman Auch (2004), reading saves the day for the plucky heroine and her unwitting farm animal friends. SouperChicken is a tale about a passionate reader named Henrietta. Henrietta is at first teased, then applauded when her reading skills help her foil the farmer's plot to turn her friends into chicken soup.

The trouble on the chicken farm begins on the day when Henrietta and her aunties are told they are going on vacation, because the aunties have stopped laying eggs. The farmer cackles to himself as he makes one silly joke after another relating to cooking and chicken soup. Henrietta is suspicious of the farmer's behavior, but her worst fears are confirmed when the truck taking the Hens reveals the name of a popular soup-making company. Henrietta is beside herself, and bravely takes a wild ride on the chicken truck to the chicken factory in hope of rescuing her friends. Along the way she meets other unwitting animals who also need to be rescued on her journey to the chicken factory, including pigs on a sausage truck and cows on a hamburger truck. Henrietta wings her way through rescuing her friends by reading directions and piecing together clues. She keeps her head and reads her way through a complicated security system out of the factory floor, and then looks for clues to help find a farm where she won't be in danger of becoming lunch. Henrietta's prowess takes the book to a satisfying conclusion with a humorous twist where our heroine and friends find respite from their brush with doom at the vegeterian's organic farm.

You will enjoy the puns, word play, and visual humor of this silly tale with an important message about the power of reading. In the story, Henrietta persists in acknowledging the importance of learning to read, and even more important, to think critically about her reading.

Though her friends tease her for being a little too much of a bookworm (bookhen?), she ignores the teasing and continues to pursue her studies. At the end of the story, Henrietta becomes a reading teacher, making this book a perfect gift for any educator who plays a role in empowering future readers and leaders of tomorrow.

The moral of the story? Knowledge is power, and reading is a sure path to knowledge. And conversely, ignorance not only ISN'T bliss, it is downright dangerous. If you are looking for a perfect Teacher Appreciation Week gift or want to make a meaningful addition to a new teacher's library, consider this book.

Book Design

The illustrations by Herm Auch are vividly colorful, giving the book a wildly over-the-top feeling, The large page size make this an excellent choice for reading aloud, and the vivid pictures are easy to see. The expressions on the faces of the animals are really funny. Take for instance, the looks on the pigs' faces when they learn they are headed for the sausage factory.

The illustrations are loaded with visual jokes, including the names of the books that the hens read at the end of the story. The illustrations complement the text of the story very well. The Auchs make a great collaborative team.

Themes

  • Farm animals
  • Chickens
  • Humor
  • Reading
  • Problem solving
  • Organic farming
  • Making choices
  • Importance of Education


Reading this Book in a Classroom

SouperChicken is an appropriate read-aloud for the Kindergarten and up crowd. Teachers will enjoy the exciting and page-turning plot. The chicken-related wordplay in this story will have you clucking to yourself.

As a read alone storybook, I recommend this book for the average early second grader, where the transition to reading chapter books begins about the middle of the second grade year. This book has a lot of text in its 32 pages, so I don't recommend it for beginning readers, unless the reader has a special interest in chickens.

Pair This Book With These Titles

  • The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie...
    The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman (ISBN 0823419525, Holiday House, 2010) adds a Jewish twist to the Little Red Hen folktale, and a recipe for Matzah too, as Little Red Hen prepares for Passover dinner!
  • The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges...
    The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza (ISBN 142301892) by Philemon Sturges and Amy Walrod is a modernized retelling of the classic Little Red Hen folktale. This children's picture book takes Little Red Hen off the farm and into the city with some zany, be

© 2009 Carolyn Augustine

Comments

Carolyn Augustine (author) from Iowa on February 27, 2012:

The Auchs make a hilarious author/illustrator team. They have written quite a collection of zany and far-fetched stories. Many of them are poultry tales.

Enlydia Listener from trailer in the country on February 26, 2012:

Funny and interesting story line for a book.