Omeletta Hen by Janelle Wilkey, illustrated by Deborah Hinde
Young Nelson despairs that his hen won't lay her eggs in his henhouse, so decides to lock her in until she lays in the nest. But Omeletta is a stubborn creature and refuses to lay any eggs at all until she is freed.
Author Janelle Wilkey was inspired to write Omeletta Hen by one of her hens that laid eggs in odd locations - including in the suitcase of visiting friends.
Her children and his cousins would laugh each time an egg popped up in funny spaces and finding an intact egg was a cause for celebration.
The resulting book, which won the Storylines Joy Cowley award in 2019, is indeed very funny.
Wilkey hasn't relied on rhyme to tell the entire story, which makes for a nice break. The parts where rhyme is used it is done with purpose, and is perfectly pitched for the intended audience. Our little ones picked it up the first time through, practically chanting it. This is helped along in part by illustrator Deborah Hinde's work. Her realistic illustrations help those still learning to read text to rely on the pictures instead to tell the story.
The remainder of the story is told in prose, and a wee song, and exposes readers to some wonderful language.
Omeletta Hen is illustrated by Hinde, who needs no introduction to the world of children's books. Her style is instantly recognisable and as gorgeous as ever. Omeletta is full of character and expression, and the single feathers she leaves scattered among the pages are simply beautiful. As mentioned before, both text and illustration work in harmony to tell the story, something that is incredibly important as a picture book.
For older children, there's a chance to use Omeletta Hen as a starting point for some deeper thinking about animal welfare, food supply and the environment.
Omeletta Hen is a funny story of a stubborn, independent chicken that will make little readers laugh out loud.
Reviewed by: Rebekah Lyell
Scholastic, RRP $17.99