Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Chicken Thief

My next purchase is going to be the children's book The Chicken Thief by Béatrice Rodriguez. I confess, it is not an indulgence for my daughter, but a treat for me! It will go on my bookshelf amongst my favourite illustration books.

The Chicken Thief  by Béatrice Rodriguez.
Size:  265 x 160mm landscape ISBN  978-1-877467-31-8 hardback. Published by Gecko Press in 2009.

The Chicken Thief is the gripping story of a chicken who is snatched by a fox. The chicken's distraught friends take chase through the forest, over mountains, and across the sea. Their exhausting pursuit through day and night comes to a most surprising and delightful end leaving the reader absolutely satisfied. That, I find, is rare in a children's book. So often a beautifully illustrated children's book is poorly written, awkward to read, or fails to conclude in a pleasing way. The Chicken Thief is unusual; the story is told only through illustration. Can a wordless picture-book capture all the drama and tension of the written word? I believe The Chicken Thief does.

Illustration from The Chicken Thief  by Béatrice Rodriguez.

Illustration from The Chicken Thief  by Béatrice Rodriguez.

Illustration from The Chicken Thief  by Beatrice Rodriguez.

 The Chicken Thief can be enjoyed by young children on a basic level, and will continue to fascinate as they get older and are able to find subtleties in the story. There is much to explore and discuss as a child grows, including themes of friendship and misunderstanding.
But who said this had to be a children's book? This purchase is for me, and I encourage all illustrators to get their hands on a copy.

The Chicken Thief was first published in France as Le voleur de poule. In 2009, Gecko Press in New Zealand published an English version in hardback. I spotted a copy in Time Out Bookstore in Auckland recently. It is also available for purchase at the Gecko Press website, and an English version by publisher Enchanted Lion Books is available through the Kitty as a Picture Amazon Bookstore.

Psssssst: Just quietly... a little birdie told me that there is going to be a 'sequel' published by Gecko Press later this year! I'll keep an eye out for it ...watch this space!

Many thanks to Gecko Press for allowing Kitty as a Picture Kids Design Blog permission to publish these copyright images.

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