Zelda's big adventure by Marie Alafaci

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Ill. by Shane McG (McGowan). Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781925266382
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Hens, Space, Achievement, Read a loud. Zelda is sure of one thing; she wants to travel in space. And not only to get there amongst the stars, but to be the first chook to achieve this.
She asks the other chooks if they can help. But each she asks in turn is unable to help. One is too busy, while several cannot do the things she asks, so she does the work herself. Sawing the wood for the spaceship, making plans for her journey and exercising to get herself ready for the event.
Shane McG's illustrative technique will entrance the readers, with his chooks reflecting so much character in their faces and body language. The view from space of the farm and all of its out houses intrigued me as did the wonderful suitcase and little green aliens, adding subtle touches of retro. The readers will laugh uproariously at the thought of this diminutive chook hurtling off into space with a wooden spaceship (take note of its beginnings!) and cosy nesting box. But she succeeds, circling the skies, and conducting her experiments. When she arrives home, all the other chooks want to be part of her success, and tell people that they had a hand in her preparations. But the readers and Xelda know better. Everyone agrees however that this was the most exciting thing ever to happen in their chook yard, and Zelda imagines that if she goes again she will take her friends.
This is a layered read aloud with possibilities for classes when talking about space and space travel, but also about friendship and what constitutes a friend. Zelda is most accommodating with her friends and even though they declined to help her she includes them in her big adventure when she returns, even thinking about taking them on her next trip. She is a lovely character and I wonder where she will go next.
Fran Knight