Lami’s Nigerian home is part of a large compound where many other children and families live—not to mention cattle, goats, chickens and one grand old baobab tree, in whose shade the elders gather to converse.
In the compound, everyone is good at something. Lami’s sister Sadia is a spelling whiz. Fatima, Lami’s friend, is the fastest hair-braider around. And Lami has a special talent, too: She’s the best chicken catcher around.
Catch That Chicken! follows Lami as she zips across the bustling compound in pursuit of one fleeing fowl after another. “Get that chicken,” her grandmother shouts as Lami darts under laundry lines draped with brightly printed clothing. Hot on the chase, Lami zooms through a cattle pin and a schoolyard. When a chicken squawks up the branches of the baobab tree, Lami is undeterred.
The elders plead for care when they see her her teetering overhead, but Lami only has eyes for the object of her fowl pursuit. She creeps down a broad, sweeping branch, readies herself to lunge and then—CRASH! How will Lami catch chickens with an injured ankle?
Nigerian-born author and storyteller Atinuke’s clever narrative and Angela Brooksbank’s vibrant mixed-media illustrations bring an entire community to life in just a few pages. The book’s text makes excellent use of repetition and alliteration, ensuring a read-aloud hit that young readers will beg to hear again and again. Brooksbank’s images complement the text perfectly; her use of double-page spreads to set the scene and sequential panels to convey the action of Lami’s chases is the work of an illustrator who uses every inch of the page to its fullest potential.
Rooted in the wonderful specificity of everyday life in Nigeria, this tale of wit and perseverance has universal appeal. Catch That Chicken! is a joy.