I’m not the first to write a PPBF post crooning the praises of THE ROOSTER WHO WOULD NOT BE QUIET! But though it’s already been covered quite beautifully by Patricia Nozell (please check out her post from last week here), I LOVE the story so much I had to choose it for my PPBF post this week. This one is destined to be a picture book classic. It’s already one of my all-time favorites.
Title: THE ROOSTER WHO WOULD NOT BE QUIET!
Written by: Carmen Agra Deedy
Illustrated by: Eugene Yelchin
Scholastic Press, 2017, fiction
For Ages: 4 and UP
Themes/Topics: resistance, protest, dissent, freedom, noise, singing, roosters, villages, laws
Once there was a village
where the streets
rang with song
Summary (from publisher): “The mayor of the noisy village of La Paz institutes new laws forbidding all singing, but a brave little rooster decides he must sing, despite the progressively severe punishments he receives for continuing to crow. The silenced populace, invigorated by the rooster’s bravery, ousts the tyrannical mayor and returns their city to its free and clamorous state.”
Why I Love This Book: What’s not to love? This rooster story is a word-perfect read-aloud. Its message of resistance is oh-so-timely. Its hero is perfectly plucky. It’s a folktale and yet it’s fresh and modern.
From my viewpoint as a writer, I am in awe of this story’s use of repetition and predictability. When our gallito arrives in the mango tree beneath the mayor’s window and sings “kee-kee-ree-KEE,” the mayor notifies him of the no-singing law. When the rooster says “Smell this sweet mango tree! How can I keep from singing?”, the mayor asks the rooster if he will sing if he chops down the tree. The gallito replies, “I may sing a less cheerful song. But I will sing.” The rooster keeps singing even as his freedom, food, and sunlight are taken away. As readers, we know the rooster will keep singing and we can sing right along with him. But as we come to the ending, with the mayor threatening to make the rooster “into a soup,” we are both surprised and not surprised by the rooster’s effect on the townspeople.
With its message of resistance, this story runs the risk of being didactic. But because of its expert telling, it never feels preachy. There’s humor in the text and humor in Yelchin’s pitch-perfect visuals. A spoonful of humor makes the medicine go down!
Ideas for Teachers: Many upper elementary school students (and even some in the lower levels) are currently interested in and engaged in social activism. This book is a fantastic addition to any discussion of social activism and/or freedom of expression.
(For a super list of links to picture book reviews, along with resources, please visit Susanna Leonard Hill’s site: http://susannahill.com/for-teachers-and-parents/perfect-picture-books/.)