The Chicken Thief

In this wordless story that is both funny and sweet, a fox steals a hen away from her home. Bear, rabbit, and rooster give chase, but in a twist on the usual children’s story, this fox is not a villain. Rather, he tenderly holds hen as he runs into the night. A funny and life-affirming story, “The Chicken Thief” defies expectations, enlivening the mind with its cleverness while going straight for the heart. This intelligent and charming book is great for all ages. A love story, a road movie, and a playful speculation on stereotypes and misconceptions, “The Chicken Thief” makes for an unforgettable reading experience! Beatrice Rodriguez was born in 1969. She received her degree from the School of Decorative Arts in Strasbourg, France, and works today as an illustrator, creating children’s books as well as pictures for the press. She lives in France.

2 thoughts on “The Chicken Thief

  1. Marilyn Carpenter says:

    I have just share a textset of worldless books with a Summer School class of teachers. They raved about them. A new favorite is Chalk by Bill Thomson. It is a delightful story of three children who encounter magic chalk. When the children draw with the chalk what they draw becomes real. The drama occurs when the boy draws a dinosaur. How will the children escape? The teachers thought of all kinds of ways to share the book in their classrooms. One thing I like about wordless books is that they often have no age limitation for enjoyment. Also, the Caldecott winner, The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney was a great hit. One teacher of 6th graders thought it would have a great tie in with her ancient Greek literature unit for Social Studies.

  2. Tracy Smiles says:

    In stories, as in life, friendship develops between the most unlikely characters in unexpected ways. This notion is beautifully illustrated in the wordless picture book, The Chicken Thief, a French import by children’s book illustrator Beatrice Rodriguez (2010).

    A rabbit, bear, rooster, and some chickens are eating lunch in the yard when a fox sneaks up on the group and kidnaps one of the hens. The rabbit, rooster, and bear take off after the fox and hen, chasing them over mountains, through forests, across mountains and over seas to rescue in an attempt to rescue the hen. However, as the fox runs with the hen something surprising happens to their relationship. The reader then wonders, is this still a kidnapping? The ending is indeed a surprise.

    I really enjoy the book’s rectangular format that accentuates the panoramic nature of the illustrations that are full of unforeseen and humorous details, which, coupled with its clever plot engaged me from beginning to end. Both my seven year old and I loved reading this book together. The Stockholm syndrome-esque plot delighted us as we discussed and pointed out the little surprises in the illustrations and how the story’s ending was not what we’d predicted.

    In thinking about issues related to International literature, I wanted to end my comment about this book with something another book reviewer, Elizabeth, posted in her review of The Chicken Thief asks, “Are the Europeans better than we Yanks are at wordless picture books? Or are they just less afraid to publish them? Remember that when someone like David Wiesner publishes a wordless picture book, like Flotsam, he gets showered in big shiny gold medals. Generally speaking, however, wordless picture books aren’t as common as all that in the American marketplace. Plus, to make a book without words and only pictures requires a deep and abiding knowledge of visual storytelling. And since America is still slow to grasp the implications behind graphic novels and panel-related story fare, the Europeans plunge onward, producing books like Beatrice Rodriguez’s charming and very French The Chicken Thief” (2010,

    I think this reviewer makes an interesting point about the nature of the American versus International publishing community with regard to wordless picture books, and I am wondering if her observation and critique accurately reflects what other readers of this site observe happening in the American children’s book publishing industry? If so, I agree that this French import powerfully illustrates this notion.

    I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages, and anticipate it will evoke rich conversations about the unanticipated ways friendship evolves.

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