Sunday, December 06, 2009

Chicken Ten Thousand (and other "Deep Tracks")

I finally had some time this week to dive into the stacks, such as they are, at the second "branch" of the school library I've been supervising the last four plus (!!!!) years. When you stock a library from donations, you always end up with some fascinating contributions - sure, we might not have much from the last two years, but we have Pulitzer Prize winner Anne Sexton's children's book Joey and the Birthday Present (co-written with Maxine Kumin).

I ran into some other mighty fine books, too... ones I'd call "deep tracks," using the old music biz term. Like an original copy of David McKee's Elmer as well as his Tusk Tusk. That man loved his elephants! There were "celebrity" books of all ilk, from Fred Gwynne's amusing ones to Maria Shriver telling us what heaven is.

But in this go round, my absolute favorite book was 1968's Chicken Ten Thousand by Jacqueline Jackson, illustrated by Barbara Morrow. Main character Chicken Ten Thousand ends up escaping from a chicken processing facility and discovers what life can be for a free hen (including an informative conversation with a "wild" rooster).

Are there earlier books about the conditions in a massive chicken plant? Later ones? I'm guessing "no." Are there picture books about cows escaping from slaughterhouses or dairies? The most interesting thing is that I suspect the story still is just as viable now as it was then... but it still isn't like other picture books I've run into.

Do any of you all know it or know more of its history? I've not been able to find much....

I'm looking forward to getting to spend more time in that collection, as I only looked through about 1/4 of the picture books. Who knows what gems still lurk? Good times. Good times, indeed.

8 comments:

Susan Thomsen said...

Now I MUST get ahold of this book.

I've read several books in which turkeys escape being Thanksgiving dinner, but have not heard of this one. Thanks!

On the Shelf said...

Good luck when you get to the non-fiction!

Sharon Mayhew said...

Who do you think the target audience is? I'm thinking I wouldn't have read a story about a chicken escaping death to my little girl. She became a vegetarian at nine after a trip to Windsor Castle. She hand fed an injured pigeon. Then my grandparent took us to a posh pub and you guessed it...pigeon was on the menu...She's almost fourteen now and hasn't touched meat since then.

Gregory K. said...

Sharon - that's a funny story! I have no idea who the audience for the book would be. It's not written as non-fiction... and while there's some anthropomorphizing, it's not really a chicken main character we grow to love cuz it's funny or charming or anything. And it's wordy, too, as many PBs were then, I suppose. Anyway, I am sure there were folks who loved it... I'm just not sure who!

Sharon Mayhew said...

Perhaps the target audience was The National Alliance for Chicken's Rights...I found an old book at out local library called Me and My Shadow. I thought it would be really good, but it is pretty boring...I checked it out, to help me with a story idea...

Gillian said...

Why not write to Jackie and ask about it? I don't believe there was a "Target audience." She writes about what interests her, and this one found a publisher. It actually sold pretty well, and she's heard from quite a few people who like it very much, thanks. How do I know? She's my mom. http://jacqueline-jackson.com/materials/previouspub.htm

Gregory K. said...

Thanks for the information, Gillian. I know authors write what they love, but publishers... well... they often think in terms of sales, hence my curiousity about targets. Anyway, I'm quite happy to have had you drop by and point me your mother's way!

Gillian said...

She'd be tickled to hear from you. She just passed a deadline for the latest book, another Round Barn, so she has some time again for correspondence :)