Author/Illustrator: Daniel Pinkwater
My rating: 4 of 5
When Arthur is sent to pick up his family’s turkey for Thanksgiving, things get a bit out of hand . . . He ends up coming home with a live, 266-pound hen instead! That would have made quite the Thanksgiving dinner, only Henrietta (as Arthur quickly dubbed her) grows on the family and Arthur decides to keep her as a pet–trains her to do tricks and everything. Unfortunately, keeping a giant chicken isn’t quite so easy as keeping, say, a dog, and Arthur’s father soon demands that Arthur return Henrietta to where she came from . . . which is sad, but understandable . . . except that Henrietta escapes and tries to return to Arthur–running loose all through Hoboken and causing mass chaos wherever she roams.
Daniel Pinkwater is an expert at writing funny, quirky stories that are truly a treat to read. The Hoboken Chicken Emergency is one of those. It’s written on probably a late-elementary- to middle-school level, but personally I think it would be fun for anyone of any age, as long as they’re able to appreciate Pinkwater’s sense of humor (yes, some folks might have a problem with that). The whole tale is absolutely an absurd tall tale from start to finish. But it’s also a cute story of family and pets and understanding that has some good takeaways. It’s also interesting to read something written in the 70’s, even as a tall tale, just to see how much culture and society has changed in that time–kind of depressing, but fun to get a slice of that time. The classic illustrations are priceless as well: black and white and kind of, well, lumpy, but expressive and very fitting for the story. For anyone who loves a good laugh and a good yarn, I think The Hoboken Chicken Emergency would be a great choice–and of course, check out the sequel, Looking for Bobowicz.