The movable celebration of Chinese New Year this year starts on 28th January and it is the Year of the Rooster. I began thinking about 'rooster' picture books. There's not a huge number, but what there is, have some very interesting roosters as characters. They don't all fit the Chinese rooster who is "...very observant, hardworking, resourceful, courageous, and talented. Roosters are very confident in themselves", but they make interesting reading and should create lively discussions. There are books about the Chinese Zodiac which will include information about the rooster, but the best book is probably The Magical Rooster. This book is part of the series on the Chinese Zodiac animals by Li Jian. His books are beautiful, informative, bilingual and a big hit in my library with native Chinese speakers and Anglo children alike.
Then take a tangent and look at how roosters are portrayed in picture books. Could we use the same adjectives for these book characters? Start with the rooster in The Bremen Town Musicians who started off as a reject but ends up triumphant. The rooster and his friends were certainly resourceful and courageous.
The cockerel or rooster in Helen Ward's book The Rooster and the Fox (the book exists with two titles depending upon where it was published) is vain and self centred, but also triumphs by being courageous and resourceful. This is a beautiful book based on Chaucer's Chanticleer story.
Henry, the rooster in Chris Wormell's story, Henry and the Fox cannot crow, is a squib and not at all confident, but with help manages to appear heroic.
Eric Carle's rooster in Rooster's Off to See the World is adventurous and confident and keen to travel. He heads up an expedition with friends but makes no provisions for food or shelter so his friends leave him. What does he do then?
Rooster's Revenge is part 3 of a series of wordless books by Beatrice Rodriguez which started with The Chicken Thief. Rooster and his friends leave the chicken to go home but get caught in a storm at sea. Which adjectives would you use to describe him?
The other titles below, Kip, Bob and The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet all explore the noise that roosters make and whether it is appropriate for where they live. If you can find them in your library they are fun to read and make good readalouds with young children. Last year when Year 1 and I were looking at stereotypes in traditional stories with chickens and foxes we made lists of adjectives for characters and had a substantial list for roosters. Because in many traditional tales a rooster is referred to as a 'cock', one boy suddenly said "now I know where the word 'cocky' comes from". Most children had never heard the word so this comment started a whole new vocabulary discussion. It was impromptu, but fantastic and the students will remember the word 'cocky'.
Happy New Year. One more week and I'll be back at school... thinking about getting as many books off those shelves and into readers' hands as possible.