Book Review: Chicken Lily by Lori Mortensen

Chicken Lily. By Lori Mortensen. Illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden

Ages: 3 1/2-5

(I am an amazon affiliate. I am not paid for my review but if you purchase any book by clicking on the image from amazon I do make a percentage which goes to helping me start a literacy non-profit)


Chicken Lily is the story of a chicken who is always careful and cautious. She dislikes taking chances and misses out on activities with friends because of her worry and fear. One day at school each student is asked to write and present a poem for the Class’s Grand-Slam Poetry Jam. Lily tries to find many ways to get out of reading the poem but her teacher isn’t having any of it. She has to write it and she has to perform it. Her friends get frustrated at her stubborn refusal to write the poem prompting Lily to complete her assignment. And even though she was terrified she found the courage to read her poem and in the process learned there was a lot of things she CAN do.

I love this story for many reasons. It is a concept many preschool kids struggle with. They have a lot of fears and worries and this is a great tool to start the conversation with them about how to tackle anxiety in a healthy way. (PRINT MOTIVATION) Also the cadence of the story is smooth. Mortensen uses alliteration, onomatopoeia (sounds as words), and a rich vocabulary. (VOCABULARY, LETTER KNOWLEDGE, PRINT AWARENESS, PHONOLOGICAL AWARENESS)

The illustrations complement the text and do not overwhelm the story. This is a well-rounded book that kids will enjoy while they enrich their love of books and language.

What your child will reinforce while reading together:


Questions to ask before, after and during reading:

  • Before you being reading, talk about the cover of the book. Ask your child what they think the book will be about?
  • Look at the end pages and name the different animals, the sounds they make and where they live.
  • About the story: Why do you think Lily is afraid to ride a bike?
  • About the story: Why do you think her friends want her to try new foods?
  • At the end of the story: Review what happened in the book. How Lily felt at the beginning of the story and how she felt at the end. Have them make faces (Happy, sad, scared, etc.) for both.

Take the story further:

Write a poem together.

Make your own alliteration They don’t need to know what this complex word means but they can play around with the structure all the same. It will help build an ear for words that have the same beginning sounds encouraging phonological awareness. For example: Let’s put two words together with the same beginning sound. Alice Alligator. Sneaky snoop. Have fun creating silly sentences.

Onomatopoeia is a crazy fun word to say and we use them all the time! Using magnetized letters, sidewalk chalk, finger paint or however your child loves to create make your own onomatopoeias. Onomatopoeias are great ways to introduce letters and letter sounds. The words are short and well known. For example : HONK! BRRR! AHCHOO!

Talk about emotions. What your child is afraid of and what they do to handle their fear. Use Lily’s journey from scared to brave in order to navigate the conversation. You can even use your phone and snap pictures of your child making happy, sad, scared, etc. faces to help work through emotions.


Other books about fear, worry, anxiety:


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