Enchanted Lion Books, 2010
When a hen is snatched from the farmyard by a fox, a rooster, a bear and a rabbit follow in hot pursuit. The chase lasts for 3 days, through the forest and across the sea, before the fox is finally tracked to his home in a tree trunk.
What an odd little book this is! Even its dimensions - the book stands about 5" high and is approximately 9" long - are different from the usual picture book. This wide perspective lends itself very well to the chase, with the fox and hen on the right side of the page and the pursuers on the left, and the scenery can be shown in detail. The animals are also evocative and drawn with a sense of humour, from the hen's sunglasses to the rooster swooning to any number of eyebrows found throughout. The scenes that involve sunrises and sunsets are especially spectacular, with the quality and colour of the light spot-on.
The chicken thief is told entirely without words, but there are nonetheless some complex feelings addressed. The rooster appears to be the ringleader among the pursuing trio, for although he sometimes leaves the more arduous tasks like burrowing into holes and rowing to his companions, he has the most evident emotional reaction at the end of the story. You see, the hen chooses to stay with the fox to (hopefully) live happily ever after. Yes, the hen and the fox appear to fall in love which seems to be a bit of a stretch, given the usual nature of foxes and hens. On the other hand, who could possibly resist a nice game of chess in a cozy burrow, natural predator or not?
A little bit odd, a little bit humourous, and whole lot of fun.