Picture Book Monday: Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman

images-2One of the most prized birthday presents my son received when he turned five was the book Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman.

A few months before, I had discovered the book on the new book table at our local library, and the nearly-five-year-old boy became obsessed with it, so much so that it is a book I can still recite if I peruse it for a few minutes.

And he “read” the book out loud many times. I can still hear the little five-year-old voice screaming, “Chickens to the rescue!” as well as his adorable five-year-old pronunciation of “Milky the Cow.”

(Am I the only one who mourns when children grow out of mispronouncing things? I tried to get my youngest to say “lellow” instead of “yellow” long after he could say it correctly.)

The illustrations in Chickens to the Rescue make the book. The lines are deadpan (first page: “On Monday, Farmer Greenstalk dropped his watch down the well.” Next page: “Chickens to the rescue!”)  but the pictures are hilarious.

For instance, when the dog eats Jeffrey’s homework on Wednesday, dozens of chickens come “to the rescue.”  Several of the chickens peck out the text on the keyboard of the computer, several others fiddle with the dot-matrix printer, and others (even one sporting a pair of glasses) read books or proofread the paper, and one chicken chastises the dog, cowering under the bed.

In each two-page spread there is also an “Easter egg” of sorts, because one of the chickens is laying an egg. Finding that is a bonus, but just seeing all the clever humor in the illustrations is great fun.

Chickens to the Rescue has two “sequels”: Cows to the Rescue and Pigs to the Rescue. While we have enjoyed them greatly, nothing will ever compare in our book to those darn chickens.

As I was finishing up this post, I discovered on an old hard drive the video of our little guy “reading” Chickens to the Rescue days before his birthday.  He is still “reading” the library version of the book, and it’s the first time my husband heard the book.  Two random things that made me laugh more than usual: my husband’s longish hippie hair, and our oldest daughter making helpful suggestions in the background.

Do you have a favorite laugh-out-loud books that you enjoy at your house?