Arnold, Elana K.

Starla Jean

(2) 1-3 Illustrated by A. N. Kang. A routine tandem bike ride to the park with Dad ends in surprise when Starla Jean discovers a lost chicken scratching in the dirt. "'If you can catch it, you can keep it,' Dad said. He was laughing like he didn't think I could do it." In response to that challenge, Starla Jean gets the hen secured in her arms and named Opal Egg before the end of chapter two. This entertaining early chapter book is heavily illustrated with eye-catching, dynamic art that extends the story. The quaint town is full of beguiling details and neighbors, including the one whose chicken has gone missing. Interjections from Opal Egg are scattered throughout in bright red bawks! as she wiles her way into the hearts of Starla Jean's skeptical family members and accidentally teaches baby sister her first word. Starla Jean initially describes Opal Egg as skinny and ugly, but the illustrations show the hen also to be irresistible with her giant, expressive eyes. Large font and a snappy text with plenty of subtle repetition make this story approachable for new readers, while the content works equally well for those enjoying longer read-alouds. The book starts off identifying what Starla Jean knows, or thinks she knows, about chickens but concludes with accurate and interesting chicken facts, including that chickens enjoy sitting on a swing and can do very simple math. The ending indicates further adventures for Starla Jean.


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