________________ CM . . . . Volume XIV Number 4 . . . . October 12, 2007


Chicken Balloons. (Eggman #1).

Peter Merry. Illustrated by Denis Proulx.
Delta, BC: Duck Savage Publishing (www.merrybooks.com), 2007.
98 pp., pbk., $7.99 (plus $3.00 shipping).
ISBN 978-0-9738606-0-3.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Tanya Boudreau.

*** /4


Skunk acted as their guide. He stopped at the bottom of a hill. “Eggman is in the valley on the other side of the Hill,” said Skunk. “No one who has gone there has ever come back. I can’t go any further.”

Skunk looked at Snake, Spider, Robin and Emily Bunny and said, “You Gang of Four will have to continue on your own. Good luck.”

Skunk turned and walked back the way they had come. The Gang of Four turned their heads in the direction of the Hill and began to climb. A white chicken balloon rose over the hilltop and floated lazily over their heads, eventually disappearing as a tiny speck in the far sky.

Caterpillar is in Mexico, and Chameleon is busy looking like a leaf. Out of all the “Animals that Change,” only Frog could make it to the Big Rock for the emergency meeting called by Owl. There is serious business to discuss and hard questions to answer. All the animals are relying on Frog for direction. Emily has turned into a rabbit, and Snake, Spider, and Robin claim they were once kids too! After an extended period of water bowl gazing and fly eating, Frog speaks. “Emily must unplug Eggman.” With Snake, Spider, and Robin accompanying her, Emily sets out for Eggman’s Egg Plant.

     Red chicken trucks pull into the egg plant, and various chicken balloons float out of the egg plant. Before the Gang of Four can venture inside, they encounter a rat. The rat warns them of the giant mice inside Eggman’s Plant. Once inside though, they see more than oversized mice. The flies are the size of birds, and the chickens on the conveyor belts are growing at alarming rates. They also notice Eggman likes to invent. He makes (and wears) fluffy ear coverings called Mouse Muffs, and he’s the manufacturer of products that have alternating abilities. These products include Whopper Chicken Feed, Egg-A-Minute, and Chicken Balloon Gas. Eggman wants to be rich, but these products he’s inventing and using are unnatural and heartless. Eggman is not alone is his deranged deeds. Two Egglets help Eggman run the plant, capture Emily, and lure all the animals in the woods to a special balloon party.

     Unfortunately, it’s when Emily and the gang are behind bars in Eggman’s plant that they realize what Frog meant by “unplugging Eggman.” They need to get out of their cages so they can save themselves and the other animals from Eggman’s villainous schemes.

     With some technology tampering and animal teamwork, there is a grand and successful rescue of the animals, but Eggman and the Egglets manage to dodge capture. Emily is a little sad after the rescue because she’s still a furry rabbit with buckteeth. It’s Frog they turn to for the answer again, and his answer makes everyone smile.

     Cartoonist and illustrator Denis Proulx lives in Quebec. His work can be seen in various children’s books, product illustrations, and t-shirt designs. In this book, grey shadows of chicken balloons float behind the text on every page. Each short chapter has one or two black and white illustrations. They show Emily’s transformation into a rabbit, the animal friends she makes, the many product labels at Eggman’s plant, and, of course, lots of balloons. The non-chicken balloons near the end of the story were a surprise to me!

     The author hasn’t said goodbye to his characters. The book ends with an uttered warning by Eggman and unresolved problems for Spider, Snake, and Robin. There are sure to be many children wanting to return to the Eggman stories for new adventures.

     Peter Merry grew up on a farm, and he’s now living with his family in British Columbia where he practices law. This book does answer the question I’m sure everyone had before they read the book- just what is a chicken balloon?! But the story also reminds us how hard it is to break bad habits and that all animals need to be treated with kindness.


Tanya Boudreau is the librarian at the Cold Lake Public Library in Cold Lake, AB.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

Copyright the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.

Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
Hosted by the University of Manitoba.