Review Blog

Sep 15 2016

Mr Chicken arriva a Roma by Leigh Hobbs

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Allen & Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781925266771
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Travel. Rome. Tourism. After his successful trips to Paris and London, Mr Chicken now heads for Rome. As a child he had always been interested in Ancient Rome, and now learning the language from his beginner's book of Italian, means to see as much as he can. He has written a list of the sights he wishes to see, including the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Forum and the Spanish Steps, and he also wishes to meet some real Romans. On the first endpaper is his list alongside many images of the places he wishes to see and a list of words he has learnt. For readers the first endpaper introduces them to Rome before Mr Chicken takes to the air.
Business Class suits him with its superior food and greater leg room, although his neighbour still looks uncomfortable. Landing he is met by his guide, Federica, who takes him to her Vespa to tour the city. His day in Rome is eventful as he sees all the sights he has dreamed about as a child, but then when Federica leaves him at the Mouth of Truth he falls into a deep sleep and dreams that he is back in Ancient Rome. Here he finds his face on all the coins, and statues of him are placed around the city, but when he lands in the Colosseum, facing a ferocious lion, they both run from the other. Federica returns, waking him and taking him for his big surprise, dinner with her family. He gets to meet some real Romans just as he dreamed.
Throughout the story Mr Chicken tastes a range of food, particularly gelato and pasta and readers will laugh out loud at his efforts to steal other people's icecream.
The wonderfully funny illustrations of Mr Chicken on the Vespa, and stealing a lick of others' gelato, will enthrall younger readers. And they will learn a few Italian words along the way.
Fran Knight

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