"When Chickens Grow Teeth": A Story from the French of Guy de Maupassant

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9780531088760:

In a tale based on a story by Guy de Maupassant, bedridden Frenchman Toine helps out his stern, strict wife, Madame Colette, by hatching eggs for her under his large arms.

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Review:

In this charming retelling of a Guy de Maupassant classic children's story, we meet Antoine, a jovial café owner with a penchant for cream puffs, and his ill-tempered wife, Madame Colette, who finds joy only in attending to her chickens and prize-winning eggs. After toppling from a ladder, Antoine is confined to bed with an aching back and an empty stomach. Madame Colette, enraged by the constant flow of attentive visitors to her husband's bedside, devises a plan in which Antoine's warm bed pillows, and his sizable arms, act as an incubator for ten lonesome chicken eggs. Antoine's "Ooo la la la la . . . I'll hatch eggs when chickens grow teeth" attitude quickly changes when Madame declares that for every egg broken, Antoine will miss an entire day of meals. Fearing Madame's threat, Antoine vigilantly guards his eggs and waits expectantly for his chicks' arrival. Wendy Anderson Halperin's illustrations have appeared in Hunting the White Cow and Homeplace, both selected as "Best Books of the Year" by School Library Journal. Halperin's detailed watercolors encircle the engaging text of When Chickens Grow Teeth, a book that will stir children's imaginations long after the last chicks' peep. (For ages 4 to 7.)

From School Library Journal:

Kindergarten-Grade 4?When burly, big-hearted cafe owner Toine takes to his bed after a back injury, it is almost too much for his sharp-tongued wife to bear. In addition to taking care of her precious chickens, she has to tend to her husband's needs as well. One day, one of his many visitors suggests that Madame Colette use Toine as a human incubator. "When chickens grow teeth!" he roars, but Madame Colette is determined. By the end, Toine is nearly as a devoted chicken tender as Madame Colette, and everyone is happy. Although Halperin's present-tense retelling of Guy de Maupassant's story seems a little awkward at first, she quickly draws readers into it. She has an excellent sense for the natural rhythms of language, conveying a leisurely bucolic mood without allowing the story to flag or falter. Best of all are the finely detailed pencil-and-watercolor illustrations, many of which are like patchwork quilts of little scenes: Toine reading the paper as his wife scrubs his back; Toine savoring a cream puff; an exhausted Madame Colette slumped in a chair. Madame Colette is especially fun, even at her crabbiest, with her many colored, layered house dresses and her cone-shaped turban. Halperin captures nicely the subtle changes in her temperament. There is much here for readers to pore over, and they may well be absorbed by both story and pictures until chicken grow teeth.?Donna L. Scanlon, Lancaster County Library, PA
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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