Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Review (Kids): Tough Chicks, by Cece Meng

Tough Chicks, by Cece Meng, illustrated by Melissa Suber

Perhaps you, like me, are a parent who is just a wee bit tired of the plethora of princesses and teenybopper pop stars taking hold of your young daughter's mind (not to mention your TV, your satellite radio, and everything else).

Can I have a Miley or a Wizard of Waverly Place, anyone? Or maybe that's just in the Betty and Boo house.

As Betty becomes more and more enamored with these oh-so-realistic worlds, I'm becoming more and more conscious of the messages being communicated. I try to strike that balance between allowing her to enjoy her interests, but also stimulating her mind with strong examples of girls who are strong in spirit, in determination, and independence.

Enter the Tough Chicks, created by children's author Cece Meng and illustrator Melissa Suber. From the book jacket:

"From the moment Penny, Polly, and Molly hatch from their eggs, the whole farm knows they are truly tough chicks. They wrestle worms, rope roosters, and are often found under the hood of the tractor. All the other animals and even the farmer himself tell Mama Hen to make her chicks good. "They are good!" Mama Hen replies."

Mama Hen is aware that her three chicks don't conform to the society's expectations of what chicks should be and do.

"Mama Hen looked at the other chicks. Some were preening their first feathers under the morning sun.

Others were quickly pecking grain from the henhouse floor.

Two were hiding under their mama's wing, afraid to come out.

"My chicks are different, all right," thought Mama Hen. "But they're tough and they're smart and they're different in a good way."

Farmer Fred doesn't always see the chicks' positive qualities, and thinks they should develop some different ones.

"When Farmer Fred found the chicks looking under the hood of his tractor again, it was the last straw. He leaned forward and fixed the chicks with a stern eye.

'You are little fuzzy-headed chicks. Be cute. Be quiet. Be good. And stay away from my tractor. I have hay to move before the rain comes."

But all the time the chicks have spent peering under the hood of the tractor, curious as to its workings, pays off. When Farmer Fred's tractor needs repairs and he's gotta move the hay, there's only three chicks to turn to in order to help get the tractor running again.

To quote the book jacket, this is a "delightfully different farmyard romp that's also a resounding endorsement for letting girls be girls (even if they're loud and tough and like to play with tractors.)"

Here, here!

I absolutely loved this book, which is recommended by Publishers Weekly for ages 4-8. Highly recommended as a great story to help show girls that it is OK to be different and to not conform to others' expectations of what a "good chick" should do.

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