Saturday, May 16, 2009

Chicken Cheeks by Michael Ian Black (illus. Kevin Hawkes)

I don't usually review picture books on this blog, but I feel that an exception should be made for a book that is this exceptional. If you had asked me which celebrity I thought would be least likely to write a truly enjoyable picture book, Michael Ian Black would have been near the top of the list. That being the case, I was quite pleasantly surprised when I saw his name on the front cover of a book I had just read and thoroughly enjoyed. The title and cover art had grasped my attention, and I hadn't even bothered to look for the author's name until I was already a fan of the book.

The premise of Chicken Cheeks is simple. A bear spies a beehive dripping with honey at the top of a very tall tree, and enlists the help of nearby animals to reach the top. The animals form their own sort of ladder by climbing on top of one another. We get a description of each animal's backside as it climbs to the top, including a "penguin patootie," a "moose caboose," and a "duck billed platypus gluteus maximus." Black's hilarious descriptions and Hawkes's charming illustrations are the perfect compliments to one another, making this book a joy for kids and grown-ups alike. I'd recommend it, even if you're not a picture book reader.

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