Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise – David Ezra Stein


            Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise – David Ezra Stein, Candlewick, c2018, 2021.  9781536212099

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Paperback

Genre: Picture book

What did you like about the book? If you read Interrupting Chicken (2010) then you will be pretty excited to spend time with Chicken once again.  “Well, Chicken, said Papa, did you have a good day at school?”  “Yes, Papa, today my teacher told us every story has an elephant of surprise.”  Papa replies that teacher was talking about the “element of surprise”, not an elephant. He explains that it is the part of the story where you did not know that something was going to happen.  “An elephant in a story always makes me say “Whoa!”  says Chicken.  As Papa reads The Ugly Duckling, Chicken interrupts that the surprise is “I’m an elephant!”.  Rapunzel, of course, has an elephant waiting to greet the prince up in the tower.  The Little Mermaid transforms into a mermaid elephant!

Stein’s illustrations were done in watercolor, water-soluble crayon, china marker, pen, opaque white ink and tea.  The Fairy tales appear as traditional illustrations with the “elephant of surprise” always being a small, blue, happy elephant.  Papa’s frustration and Chicken’s exuberance instill so much humor into the story both by expression and dialog.

Anything you did not like about the book?  Not a thing- It might be more fun to read its predecessor, Interrupting Chicken, first, but not necessary.

To whom would you recommend this book? It’s difficult to imagine the child who would not find this story hilarious.  It might pair well with some Mo Willems Elephant and Piggie tales for the outrageous humor.

Who should buy this book? Public libraries, nursery and preschools and K-1 classrooms.

Where would you shelve it? Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Sure.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Editor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review: September 16, 2021

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