Chicken in the Kitchen

by Nnedi Okorafor (Author) Mehrdokht Amini (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

What would you do if you woke up one night to find the shadow of a giant chicken passing your bedroom door? Go and investigate, of course!

When Anyaugo follows a giant chicken into her kitchen one warm night in Nigeria, she embarks on a fun-filled adventure where nothing is quite as it seems. Is the nature spirit that lives in the wooden walls of her house a help or a hindrance? Is the mischievous giant chicken a friend or a foe? Most importantly, will Anyaugo be able to save the food her Aunties have cooked for the New Yam Festival the next day?

An entertaining look at the fascinating masquerade culture of West Africa, told from the perspective of a plucky young Nigerian girl who finds the courage to protect the traditions she loves.

WINNER of the Children's Africana Best Book Award 2016

"Okorafor leaps into the world of picture books in a most unforgettable way with this playful, fascinating tale"--Kirkus Reviews, STARRED

"My little boy wanted me to read it three times in a row. So yeah, I think my kids are in agreement on this: Five Stars"--Patrick Rothfuss, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review

Best known for her African-based fantasies (Akata Witch, 2011, etc.), Okorafor leaps into the world of picture books in a most unforgettable way with this playful, fascinating tale. (Picture book. 4-8)

Copyright 2017 Kirkus Reviews, LLC Used with Permission

Publishers Weekly

Okorafor (Akata Witch) brings readers to Nigeria where a girl named Anyaugo awakens in the middle of the night to find a giant chicken occupying the family's kitchen. With a resplendent coat of feathers in eye-popping oranges, golds, and greens, the chicken is already making a mess, and Anyaugo worries that it might ruin the New Yam Festival that begins the next day: "Anyaugo couldn't let the chicken ruin the yam dishes in the fridge!" With help from the Wood Wit, a mischievous wood spirit, Anyaugo realizes that the "chicken" is actually a masquerade spirit looking for a snack. Iranian-British illustrator Amini's illustrations bring a rough-and-tumble energy to this nighttime adventure; while Anyaugo is working up the courage to confront the chicken, readers see the Wood Wit--essentially a floating head with broad lips and lanky arms--teasing and tangling with the enormous fowl. In addition to providing a boisterous story of things that go bump in the night, Okorafor includes just enough information about the New Yam Festival to make unfamiliar readers feel in the know. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Copyright 2017 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

K-Gr 2--The night before the New Yam Festival, Anyaugo is wakened by a noise and finds a giant chicken in her kitchen. Worried that the chicken will spoil the special food that her mother and aunties prepared for the festival, Anyaugo seeks help from the Wood Wit, a nature spirit who can travel through anything made of wood. The Wood Wit teases Anyaugo a bit, telling her that she must speak to the chicken in Chickenese, '"Say buck buck CLUCK, ' the Wood Wit suggested. 'But you have to say it just right!' It burst out laughing, amused with itself." Readers know what Anyaugo doesn't--that the Wood Wit has been there all along, aggravating the chicken out of Anyaugo's sight. The child summons her courage, and faces the chicken with a brave, "Hello!" The chicken smiles and the Wood Wit hums a soft drumbeat. Anyaugo realizes that this is not an ordinary chicken, but a powerful masquerade spirit visiting her ahead of the New Yam Festival. Amini's jewel-toned illustrations are richly textured, providing readers with much detail outside of the text. Sweet Anyaugo's round face perfectly expresses her changing emotions on each page, and her feline companion adorably echoes Anyaugo's feelings. VERDICT A sweet and satisfying story set in Nigeria that may inspire readers to learn more about the New Yam Festival and masquerades. A recommended general purchase for all libraries.--Anna Haase Krueger, Ramsey County Library, MN

Copyright 2017 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Okorafor leaps into the world of picture books in a most unforgettable way with this playful, fascinating tale.Kirkus Reviews

Nnedi Okorafor
Nnedi Okorafor is the daughter of Nigerian-born (Igbo) parents. She grew up in the Chicago area, with frequent trips back to Nigeria. There she absorbed the history and mythology that infuse her works of science fiction and fantasy. She has received the Hugo, the Nebula, the World Fantasy Award, and the Locus Award for her work, and her fans include Neil Gaiman, Rick Riordan, John Green, and Ursula Le Guin. Ms. Okorafor holds a PhD in English. She lives with her daughter in the suburbs of Chicago.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Publication date
September 20, 2017
Children's Africana Best Book Award
Winner 2016

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