A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Tongue-in-cheek comments about "Ancient Times," such as: "The Shepherd Boy worked all day and never went to school, because in Ancient Times, school had not been invented yet. (It's true -- look it up.) ... He never learned how to look things up or how to read or write or know science, so understandably, he was not nearly as smart as you." "That Shepherd Boy could shear a sheep in sixty-seven seconds flat. Though, it should be noted, clocks had not been invented yet in Ancient Times."
Don't be distracted by being too concerned about your looks. Sometimes things are just a coincidence, not magic. Some people wish to see magic in the world.
Positive Role Models
The Purple Pooh Bah is kind and patient with his teen daughter, understanding that teenagers get angry sometimes and delighted that the chicken brings her joy. The Learned Princess -- "who had become learned thanks to private tutor -- remember there were no schools in Ancient Times)" -- longs to explore the wide world and writes a catchy song about Gladys that becomes popular in the kingdom. The Shepherd Boy's vanity causes him to lose Gladys, but he loyally searches for her and realizes he shouldn't care so much about his looks.
There's a variety of skin tones, hair colors, and body types in the cast. The Learned Princess and her father, the Purple Pooh-bah, are Black. The Lone Rider is a brave young woman with dark skin.The Shepherd boy's ethnic identity is undetermined. Two female characters portrayed in nonsteretypical roles as brave, independent, and taking their destiny into their own hands.
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Violence & Scariness
The Learned Princess throws an urn made of clay at her father in anger, as he's going out her door, and it smashes to bits, but it doesn't hit him. A scene of pirates attacking a rival pirate ship shows flaming arrows flying and people fighting with swords and falling overboard. The text says, "A vicious fight broke out, claiming many lives and limbs," but no deaths, injuries, or blood are shown. A Drowning Sailor makes it to shore and survives.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Gladys the Magic Chicken, written by Adam Rubin (Dragons Love Tacos and illustrated by Adam Rex (The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors), is a zany, fairy-tale-like story about coincidences that strike people as magic. When changes happen to the characters in possession of a chicken named Gladys, they attribute them to her having magical powers. Gladys is deadpan throughout, as all sorts of crazy adventures take place around her while she simply "ploops" out eggs. It's a colorful, funny read-aloud with a narrator who often butts in to explain things about how things were "in Ancient Times." There's a fight between rival pirate ships with swords and flaming arrows but no injuries or deaths shown, and a teen princess throws a clay urn at her dad but it smashes on the door he's exiting and he's not hurt.
Is It Any Good?
This story of crazy coincidences taken for magic makes a rollicking read-aloud with much silliness, a funny narrator, colorful characters, and Adam Rex's exuberant illustrations. Sit back and enjoy the wacky, lengthy plot of Gladys the Magic Chicken unfolds. There are subtle messages along the way about greed, vanity, and seeing the magic around you. It's a playful take on fairy tales and life in "Ancient Times" that has a modern sensibility of inclusion and women taking control of their own destiny.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.