Mr Chicken Arriva a Roma by Leigh Hobbs
Published by Allen & Unwin
May I share a secret? I have a huge crush on Mr Chicken, especially after reading his previous travel adventures in Paris and London. Personally, I would love to be his travel companion no matter what city he travels to, but his time in Rome has made me very envious of his jetsetter lifestyle.
Just like Mr Chicken, I too have dreamt of life in Ancient Rome, speaking fluent Italian, riding a red Vespa motorcycle and eating gelato - daily. Who would have thought that such a big (very big) bold, yellow (very yellow) chicken with a toothy grin wearing a tiny, black hat could have so much fun. He even travelled business class on the flight to Rome. Of course this was only for the fine food and extra leg room.
He is met on arrival by Frederica, his Italian guide, who whizzes around on a bright red Vespa with Mr Chicken clinging to her back, introducing him to the beautiful sights and culture of Roma. Frederica insists they try many of the different flavoured gelati, which Mr Chicken declares delicioso! Of course as a gelato lover myself, I would have to totally agree. He also has a hilarious encounter with pasta, as well as daydreams about being alone in the ancient Colosseum with a hungry lion and being chased by gladiators. By the time Mr Chicken departs Roma he is eating gelato daily (not necessarily his own) and easily chatting in Italian with many a ciao, grazie and arrivederci.
Leigh Hobbs, our Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016-17, has done it again with a magnifico Mr Chicken holiday introducing us to the sights, from the Vatican City to the Trevi Fountain and the culture and gastronomic delights of The Eternal City. The story is fast paced, engaging, educational and each page is turned with a chuckle (or outright chortle) to the very end.
I was enchanted with the simplicity and humour of the illustrations. How one big yellow bird manages to be so lovable is a credit to Leigh Hobb’s ability to provide so much personality in each and every drawing of Mr Chicken. You just want to hug him (Mr Chicken not Leigh) by the end of his trip. I’m sure both children and adults will enjoy the subtle humour throughout the book. This book would be a wonderful way to introduce young children to an Italian holiday, encourage awareness of different cultures and cuisine, as well as the fun of learning about a new country. The endpapers read like a travel journal with a list of Italian words and their English translation combined with essential tourist sight photos and incredible selfies of Mr Chicken in many funny Italian situations.
I know this will become a favourite in my collection and I would most highly recommend it to children aged 4-8 and adults of any age. I truly look forward to another city adventure for Mr Chicken – possibly I might get an invite next time. Meanwhile, I will practise my Italian language skills, especially those words for gelato flavours – cocco, caffe, cassata, melone and fragola - by revisiting Roma with Mr Chicken a few more times.
CKT Book Reviewer
Author/Illustrator: Leigh Hobbs
Title: Mr Chicken Arriva a Roma
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Published: September 2016