>Book Reviews: _The Plot Chickens_ and _Do Not Open This Book!_

>I don’t know if I’m going to do this often, but these two books caught my eye the last time I took my son to the library. I find it very amusing to find children’s books about the writing process.

The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herm Auch. (Holliday House)

The story of Henrietta, a chicken who loves books and loves to read. She decides to write her own story on her trusty “Hunt and Peck” typewriter, and has to deal with the joys and tribulations of writing the story, rejections, publishing and bad reviews. This book is written by a couple who have a series of chicken-pun kid’s book (Bantam of the Opera, anyone?), and it’s a good, if simplified look at the publishing world. Just right (write?) for the child of a writer, who may not understand just yet why Mommy is pounding her forehead on her laptop keyboard. The illustrations are oil painting (by Mary Jane), that were digitally enhanced by Herm, and are nice and sharp, and very amusing.

Do Not Open This Book by Michaela Muntean. Illustrated by Pascal Lemaire. (Scholastic Press).

The story of a young pig author, who is working hard at getting the words set up in the blank book. There is no fourth wall in this book — the reader is interacting directly with the ‘author’, who is angry that the reader is interrupting him while he’s trying to write the book you are reading. There are one or two places where this book reminds me strongly of The Monster at the End of this Book, but the authorial pig is not nearly as endearing as Grover (then again, who is?). The tone is fiercely antagonistic, even though the pig admits at the end that the reader helped him write a good book. The art is spare, which fits the ‘unfinished book’ theme.

On the whole, I’ll be looking for more from the Auchs. The Plot Chickens was cute, and actually informative about the process that writers go through. Do Not Open This Book was a bit too angry for my tastes.

What do you think?

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