Silly Chicken is a story about sibling rivalry, except there isn’t a sibling, there is a chicken. Rani feels that her mom, Ami, loves a chicken, Bibi, more than she loves her. Rani is jealous of the attention Bibi receives and finds the chicken in general, silly. One day when Rani and Ami leave their home by tonga to visit her father’s grave, a dog gets in and when they return, Bibi is no more. Ami is devastated and Rani is sure she closed the gate. It isn’t until Bibi’s egg hatches by surprise, that the story comes full circle and Rani responds to Ami’s chiding that she loves the baby chick more than her mother, that the reader and Rani realize how silly that would be.
I really liked this 32-page, brightly and playfully illustrated book. It is written on a AR 2.3 level and is fun out loud or at bed time. The story takes place in Pakistan and a lot of reviews online remark that it is a good book about Pakistan or for showing Pakistani culture, critiques that I both agree and disagree with. Every kid, everywhere, through out time, can probably relate to being jealous of something or someone occupying their mother’s attention. The concept of a pet and loving it and being sad and feeling guilty, are all universal themes. That being said, both the author and illustrator do a remarkable job of breaking stereotypes without drawing attention to them. Ami and Rani are relatable and are clearly Pakistani, subtly removing an us and them stance. Rani’s dad has passed away, but Ami and Rani seem to be doing well. Ami seems very self-sufficient in daily activities and brave when they think a burglar may be present. The two chat with neighbors and travel independently breaking down the erroneous stereotype that women cannot go out or be recognized without a male. The mother wears hijab and traditional Pakistani clothes while Rani being young obviously does not cover. Their clothes are bright and colorful and their expressions relatable and inviting. The way that Bibi’s death is handled is age appropriate and a child could possibly think she simply was run off rather than killed, either interpretation would allow the reader empathy for Ami and be a great topic to explore with a child. Enjoy!