Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise Book Poster Image
Playfulness makes silly sequel as hilarious as original.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

age 4+
Based on 1 review

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Story structure and the element of surprise. Classic tales "The Ugly Duckling," "Rapunzel," "The Little Mermaid." The characters model reading and making up stories and illustrating them.

Positive Messages

Implicit message that reading's fun and enjoyable. You can play with stories and add new elements. You can make up your own stories. Parents and kids can talk about what’s happened in school in order to support and process it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Papa is happy to read to Chicken. He's patient, and explains what she doesn't understand. Chicken is exuberant and excited about reading, stories, and what she's learned in school. She's inventive, creative, playful. The two have a loving relationship.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise, by David Ezra Stein, is a sequel to his very funny and wildly popular Caldecott Honor book, Interrupting Chicken. It brings back Papa and Chicken, who again read stories together. But this time, the exuberant and irrepressible Chicken is determined to find the "elephant of surprise" in every story, and when there isn't one -- surprise! -- she inserts one, providing parents and kids the opportunity to revisit classic tales while having lots of storytime fun.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Kid, 10 years old January 29, 2019
So funny a great play on words.

What's the story?

In INTERRUPTING CHICKEN AND THE ELEPHANT OF SURPRISE, Chicken begs Papa to read to her after school since she wants to look for the "elephant of surprise" her teacher insists is in every story. Though Papa patiently explains that the teacher must've meant "element of surprise," Chicken is not daunted. As Papa makes his way through their storybook, reading "The Ugly Duckling," "Rapunzel," and "The Little Mermaid," Chicken figures out how to insert an elephant in each. Even when Papa decides to tell his own story, one in which there are pointedly no elephants, an elephant manages to appear. Chicken says, "Oh, Papa! I knew there’d be an elephant in the story." Papa replies, "So did I, somehow."

Is it any good?

This fun story promotes reading, references classic tales, and depicts a loving dad and daughter, while featuring an exuberantly creative chicken and a silly blue elephant -- what's not to like? Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise is a sequel that's every bit as fun as its original. Kids will love revisiting the familiar classic tales, then seeing how Chicken upends each one by inserting an elephant at a critical juncture. And of course, in each, her elephant of surprise is the element of surprise.

David Ezra Stein's art is detailed and colorful, underscoring the warm family relationship. The happy, book-lined home is complete with comfy reading chair and bright, bloomy upholstery roses. The pages on which Papa reads snippets of fairy tales are muted and affect a classic look. By contrast, the elephant who interrupts those stories is bright blue, and dressed in hilarious costumes. (Gotta love the coconut shells that riff on the the Little Mermaid's seashells.) Readers will be charmed and swept along by Chicken's spirited story doctoring, just as Papa is.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the element of surprise in Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise. What do you think the surprise is in this story? Can you think of surprises in other stories?

  • Can you think of other classic fairy tales that Chicken could put an elephant of surprise in? Which stories? Where would the elephant appear?

  • Have you ever misheard a word and thought it was a different one? Have you ever mixed up the words of a song? Or something someone told you? Could you write a funny story about it?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love picture books and humor

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate