Waiting for Chicken Smith
Little Hare, 2018
32pp., hbk., RRP $A24.99
Every year, I stay in the same cabin at the beach with my family, and every year Chicken Smith’s here too, with his Dad and his dog, Jelly. But this year, something’s different.’
Convinced that his friend Chicken Smith will appear any moment, the young narrator of this story waits resolutely for him, cradling the piece of driftwood that Chicken Smith carved into a whale shape last summer. While he waits and waits, his sister tries to get his attention but he ignores her – nothing is more important than being there to greet Chicken Smith when he arrives. Apart from anything else, he has a shell to give him as a thank you for the driftwood whale.
As he remembers and reflects on past summers, it gradually becomes clear that perhaps Chicken Smith won’t be coming this year. The cabin he stays in is shut up with long grass all around it and a huge cobweb in Chicken’s bedroom window. And at last, he pays attention to his sister’s entreaties and discovers something that makes up for Chicken Smith’s absence…
This is a moving story that will inspire young readers to reminisce on their own holidays at the beach, the friends they made, the things they did and start to build the anticipation of having such a magical time again. They might like to speculate on what has happened to Chicken Smith and ponder whether the boy will have as good a holiday without him, using the clues towards the end to think about the new friendship that is beginning.
The childlike language and the illustrations that could have been drawn by the narrator make this a more personal experience for the reader – you are just waiting for Chicken Smith to appear and for the boys to get on with what boys do at the beach. Great for starting thoughts about the upcoming summer…
Teachers’ notes are available.