The Rooster's Gift.
Pam Conrad. Illustrated by Eric Beddows.
Grades 3 - 6 / Ages 8 - 11.
A quiet hush fell over the chickens, over the hill, over the sky. Young Rooster tightened his feet on the rim of the coop, closed his eyes, stretched his body far, far, high and high into the night and then -The Rooster's Gift is a retelling of the story about the rooster who crows to make the sun come up. In this version we meet Young Rooster as a young fluffy chick who discovers he has The Gift. The Gift is the urge to crow at sunrise, and of course Young Rooster and all the other barnyard fowl think that daylight would not occur without Young Rooster calling it up. When grown-up Rooster, who has become proud and aloof, misses a morning and the sun comes up anyway, he is deflated. With the help of an admiring Smallest Hen, whom he has previously scorned, Rooster realizes that The Gift is to announce the sun's rising in a beautiful cot cot cot cot ca-toodle toooooo for the barnyard. Rooster, who has now become Old (and wiser) Rooster tries again, and the sun bathes the peaceful valley in streaks of pink, yellow and blue as a new day begins.
"Cot Cot Cot Cot Ca-toodle tooooo!"
The chickens stared at him.
"Get down from there," scolded one.
"My, my," worried another.
Then again, louder and wilder -
"Cot Cot Cot Cot Ca-toodle TOOOOOOO!" Young Rooster was glorious. He felt lifted up, charged, holy.
In The Rooster's Gift, Pam Conrad has written a pleasant story, complete with the folksy old farmer and his wife and the flock of pecking hens who bok-bok and cackle up and down the barnyard. Children will learn that everyone counts ( it is the Smallest Hen that helps Rooster overcome his hubris) and that we all make contributions to the world by doing our best at whatever we do.
Eric Beddows has created a lovely setting: an idyllic valley, patchwork fields, a spry farmer in overalls and his wife in a white apron, chickens clucking and pecking over every seed, and the rooster in all his glorious colours. His illustrations remind the reader of simpler times not so long ago.
The reader will not feel the same sympathy for the rooster's plight, however. The plot lacks the pace of another famous rooster tale, Cock-A-Doodle Dudley, by Bill Peet, wherein Dudley experiences great danger and the whole world (including the sun) waits for him to return so the day can begin. Overall though, The Rooster's Gift is a good book that will serve well to teach the above-stated lessons, and will be a good book by a Canadian author to add to a library or classroom collection.
Harriet Zaidman is a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg.
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Copyright © 1996 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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