Emberley, R. (2009). Chicken Little. New York: Roaring Book Press.
The summer between my junior and senior year of high school, Chicken Little was out in theatres. My four-year-old cousin Kathryn came to spend the week with me as her mother was at a conference in Dallas, Texas. Kathryn had mentioned wanting to see Chicken Little and so one day during that week we took her. I sat right beside her and was amazed by how entranced she was at being in a movie theatre. I had never been to a movie with a toddler and to watch her giggle and laugh at all the silly things in the movie made my heart so happy! When I saw this story on the reading list for traditional literature, I knew immediately I wanted to read it.
Rebecca Emberley’s Chicken Little is the story of a chicken, named Chicken Little, who becomes quite certain that “the sky is falling” due to an acorn falling on top of his head. He runs to escape what is sure to be the falling sky and happens upon his other bird friends. Chicken Little, Turkey Lurkey, Loosey Goosey and others all experience the same event (“The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”). Upon their escape, Chicken Little and company come across Foxy Loxy, who seems to be particularly interested in helping them find a safe place. Will Chicken Little take Foxy Loxy’s advice? Will the birds and fox perish from the falling sky?
As a piece of traditional literature, Chicken Little is considered to be a fable. In a fable, the story incorporates very simple characters that are usually animals where a lesson is taught or a universal truth is revealed. A fable can be one of those “…and the moral of the story is…” One feature of Chicken Little being of traditional literature is the action throughout the story. As a reader turns each page, a new comrade of Chicken Little has been added to his group as he tries to outrun the falling sky. The action in traditional literature is typically very concentrated and fast-paced.
After reading Rebecca Emberley’s Chicken Little, two activities came to mind. One would be to teach elementary students the features of fables. Teachers could use Chicken Little, in addition to a variety of other fables, to teach the elements of fables such as plot, action, characters, etc. The illustrations are very bold and the story would lend well to a read aloud. The other activity would be geared toward middle school students. Teachers could read the fable and then watch the movie. After having completed both, students could learn how to compare and contrast a book and movie or perhaps be taught how to write a movie review.
Big questions to ask students after reading Chicken Little: Why does Chicken Little believe that “the sky is falling?” What actions make him believe this? What are the similarities between Chicken Little and his friends? What do you believe Foxy Loxy’s intention was when he first saw Chicken Little and his friends? What is the moral of the story?