It's like watching a very good short film, full of drama, jokes and unexpected twists.

The Listener

The Chicken Thief

When a fox steals a chicken from her friends, her friends set out to rescue her… A beautiful wordless picture book. For ages 1 and up.

  • Description

    The Chicken Thief is a funny, wordless picture book.

    When a fox steals a chicken from her friends, her friends set out to rescue her. They negotiate forests, climb mountains and cross the sea to get her back. But it becomes perfectly clear that chicken and fox love each other, as chicken explains most eloquently—in a book entirely without words.

  • Book Details

    Country of Origin France
    Reader Age 2-5 year, 5-7 year
    Book Size

  • Reviews

    1., January 2011

      The Chicken Thief is the gripping story of a chicken who is snatched by a fox. The chicken’s distraught friends take chase through the forest, over mountains, and across the sea. Their exhausting pursuit through day and night comes to a most surprising and delightful end leaving the reader absolutely satisfied. That, I find, is rare in a children’s book. So often a beautifully illustrated children’s book is poorly written, awkward to read, or fails to conclude in a pleasing way. The Chicken Thief is unusual; the story is told only through illustration. Can a wordless picture-book capture all the drama and tension of the written word? I believe The Chicken Thief does.The Chicken Thief can be enjoyed by young children on a basic level, and will continue to fascinate as they get older and are able to find subtleties in the story. There is much to explore and discuss as a child grows, including themes of friendship and misunderstanding.
      But who said this had to be a children’s book? This purchase is for me, and I encourage all illustrators to get their hands on a copy.

    2. The Guardian, December 2009

      An unusual love story unfolds across visually captivating spreads, with the pictures perfectly capturing every detail of the high drama at the heart of this stunning, wordless story. On an instant, a fox snatches the chicken from under the noses of her friends. The kidnap is shocking and the chicken’s friends immediately give chase but the mood and tempo change as the chicken falls in love with the fox and the two establish a peaceful and benign rapport. The chase over, all ends happily, despite the disbelief of the others, when the chicken and the fox declare their love for one another.

    3. 50 Best Children’s Books of 2009, The Listener, December 2009

      There are no words in The Chicken Thief; the story of the fox who steals a chicken and the bear, rabbit and rooster who give desperate chase is told purely through lively, colourful pictures. It’s like watching a very good short film, full of drama, jokes and unexpected twists. Even very small children will enjoy explaining the story to adults, or making their way through it alone: they can read it without needing to read.

    4. Alive magazine, October 2009

      A beautifully illustrated picture book tells the tale of animal friends of all shapes and sizes who are out to reclaim chicken who has been stolen by fox. Colourful artwork sets the scene and sends a child’s imagination on an adventure-filled journey.

    5. Reading Time Australia, October 2009

      Unlikely stories can produce interesting effects. In this wordless book, fox runs off with a hen but is chased by a grizzly bear, a rabbit and a cock. These animals were having a lovely picnic in a clearing in the forest when the dastardly deed was done. What follows is an animal version of a road chase through the forest, up a mountain, into a burrow, down a mountain, across the sea and to an island. Clearly an anthropomorphic tale, the story seems to suggest that fox is running off with a powerless other for his own ends. Really? But the pictures tell another story: fox is lonely and wants company! With that settled, the good friends leave.

    6., November 2009

      How can a book with no blurb on the cover or inside the book be so gripping? Well rest assured this one is absolutely so. Chicken’s friends are mortified to see him stolen by a fox. They trek up hills, through forest, down dales and across the sea to try and rescue their friend only to discover that fox and chicken are very much in love and happily living together! Absolutely beautiful full-bleed illustrations throughout portray all manner of emotions that you can’t fail to get caught up in.

    7. Julia Eccleshare,, November 2009

      An entertainingly illustrated wordless picture book story which will be loved by all ages. When the daring fox comes by and steals the chicken away from under the noses of her friends Bear and Rabbit, he sets off a dramatic chase through the forest, over the mountain and even across the sea. But what Bear, Rabbit and the rest don’t know is that Chicken has fallen in love with Fox and the two plan to live happily ever after… A touching story with a nicely surprising ending.

    8. Your Weekend, Dominion Post, October 2009

      There’s a certain amount of sophistication required to ‘read’ picture books with no text, but savvy pre-schoolers will love French illustrator Beatrice Rodriguez’s The Chicken Thief, especially since its storyline turns the predictable ending on its head. When Chicken is stolen by Fox her faithful friends set off to rescue her – but after a trek through woods it seems she doesn’t need rescuing at all; this, it turns out, is a love story. Captivating.

    9. Taranaki Daily News, August 2009

      Fox steals Chicken, but when friends Rooster, Bear and Rabbit mount a rescue, it becomes clear that it is a case of true love, not dinner. This is a simple story conveyed beautifully in expressive illustrations with no words at all…

    10. Daily Post, June 2009

      Rodriguez doesn’t need words to tell a tale of misunderstandings between friends and lovers, when Bear, Rabbit and Rooster chase after Fox who has kidnapped Hen. A curiously good book.

    11. Magpies magazine, September 2009

      The sleight of hand needed to tell an energetic and entertaining story in a text-free picture book is quite an accomplishment. The Chicken Thief is an excellent example of this form of literary magic which simultaneously covers a remarkably complex spectrum of emotions, intentions and events.

      The story opens on a scene of pastoral perfection: a little thatched cottage, the golden light of early morn, the warm and fuzzy sight of Bear, Hare and assorted others greeting the new day. And then, into this gentle landscape bursts a dastardly, lip-licking fox! He snatches up a pretty white hen and dashes into the forest. Bear, Hare and Rooster, their anger and anguish positively vibrating from the page plunge down the path in hot pursuit. And so the chase is on. Little Hen, her beak clamped shut in the paw of fast running Fox looks back at her friends in distress; and Fox holds tight to his prize.

      All is not as we suppose, however. Look carefully as the chase continues. Note the changing expressions and body language of all the characters, in particular the hostage and her captor. There is a surprise in store! Beatrice Rodriguez’s illustrations are atmospheric, energetic and charming. The point of focus on each page is unequivocal and the text-free storyline, no matter how we choose to interpret it, is gripping. Progress and change of pace are clearly depicted through colour, tone, texture, energy of line and the beautifully sketched shifting expressions on each of the little animals. There are also wonderful out-loud laughs available on many pages, expecially when negotiations and conflict resolution are in full swing at the end of the book. The Chicken Thief has great entertainment value and provides a forum for interpretation and discussion on the all-important identification of feelings; a major stepping stone to clear communication for all ages. Gecko Press has given us a treasure with this ‘translation’ of a curiously good book from France. C’est magnifique.

    12. The Weekend Sun, August 2009

      Most people would think that a fox who steals a chicken has dinner on his mind. Chicken has some loyal friends who jump to that conclusion when a fox races off with their feathered companion. Off they go to the rescue! Rooster, Bear and Rabbit chase fox and chicken into the forest. They climb mountains and cross raging seas, determined to save their friend. But all is not what it seems in this wordless picture book. The ending will surprise. This quality hardback book with its muted watercolours and expressive characters is a delight. Background detail is kept to a minimum to focus attention on the friends and their pursuit. Author and illustrator Beatrice Rodriguez invites young readers to explore friendships that cross the usual boundaries.

    13. Create Readers blog, National Library, July 2009

      The Chicken Thief… is one of an increasing number of new wordless picture books that work well at junior level. When a chicken is captured by a night-prowling fox, her distressed friends set off in hot pursuit, desperate to save her before it is too late. But all is not as it seems… The reader/viewer is kept one jump ahead of the would-be rescuers in what turns out to be a delightful story about the folly of jumping to conclusions. While The Chicken Thief can be enjoyed at its simplest level, older children will find more complex layers to explore and much ground for discussion.

    14. English four to eleven (UK), Spring 2011

      Told through 24 pages of illustrations, most of which are double page spreads, the story opens outside an idyllic cottage in the words. There’s a bear, a rabbit and a cockerel, and some hens and chickens in the garden (there are also some delightful little details such as the rabbit garden gnome and a toy tow truck). Not quite so delightful is the fox in the bushes looking longingly at the chickens.

    15. Herald on Sunday, May 2009

      The folks at Wellington’s Gecko Press have a charming collection of some of the world’s best picture books.

      Pictures really do tell the story in this wordless, charming story of friendship.
      Herald on Sunday, May 2009

    16. Nelson Mail, June 2009

      It’s a clever children’s author who entertains the adult reader and the child, and more so where layers of satisfying story coexist. The latest releases of young children’s picture books from Wellington’s Gecko Press are all splendid examples.

      The Chicken Thief has no words. It’s a simple tale that conjures strong emotions, and is perhaps reminiscent of the suspense created in Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. Fox arrives in the farmyard and runs away with the little white hen. Rooster, Bear and Rabbit give chase. It all ends beautifully. While marketed for ages two-plus, it is the most life-affirming tale I’ve read in ages. Buy it!

    17. Scoop Review of Books, May 2009

      The Chicken Thief, by French author and illustrator Beatric Rodriguez, is a wordless picture book. When a fox steals a chicken from the clutches of her extended family a chase ensues. The marvellous twist at the end is a welcome surprise, redressing the bad press that foxes have been given over the ages.

      Without text, the illustrations have to say it all. And Rodriquez’s whimsical, earth-hued paintings successfully tell the story with imagination and charm.

    18. Around the Bookshops, May 2009

      Watch out! Fox has snatched Chicken away from her loving animal family including her partner, Rooster and is galloping off through the forest followed in desperate pursuit by Bear, Rooster and Rabbit up hills, down rock faces and over the sea. But. What’s this? It becomes obvious Chicken does not want to be rescued and is indeed in love with Fox and happy to set up home with him in his cosy little house over the sea. A wordless picture book that positively exudes joy and cheerfulness and one that has sat on my coffee table for some weeks being enjoyed (almost to pieces) by every adult and child who has come into the house. Recommended.

    19. North & South, June 2009

      A fox steals a chicken, hugging her tightly as he outruns his pursuers, until the pair have fallen in love. The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez is whimsical, intelligent and very funny.

    20. Millwood Gallery, May 2009

      New from the boutique local publisher Gecko Press is The Chicken Thief by Beatrice Rodriguez which instantly became a favourite with us and will be with you too. It is a charming story told entirely without text and reinforces that our preconceived conclusions of an event may not always be realised.

    21. The Source/Magpies, May 2009

      This story is told entirely without words, and offers young ‘readers’ a chance to examine the pictures carefully and develop their own explanation for what is going on. The first picture introduces the five characters. It is morning and Rooster is on the roof of the house. Bear and Rabbit have just woken up and Hen is pecking in the grass. Careful inspection shows Fox lurking in the bushes. Our suspicions are confirmed when Fox runs off with Hen. Bear, Rabbit and Rooster spring up from their breakfast and run to rescue their friend. The pictures which follow show the chase. Fox runs fast through the forest, holding Hen’s beak shut. Bear pursues carrying Rabbit and Rooster. The pursuit continues through day and night through the forest and up into the hills.

      All seems straightforward, but the illustration for the second night raises questions. As the pursuers struggle in vain to enter a burrow, Fox and Hen are far below them, playing chess by candlelight. The chase continues across double-page landscapes and over the sea to Fox’s home. There pursuers confront the pursued. The final four pictures bring a surprising ending. Readers will find they have to reinterpret what has happened. Ambiguity abounds. The pictures – as one would expect in a wordless book – reward careful scrutiny. For example, any reader who spots what Rabbit and Rooster use as a boat will be hooked.

    22. Story Time Books for Kids, April 2009

      By Beatrice Rodriguez, this is another Gecko Press production, but this time the translation from the French must have been relatively straightforward, as the title is the only words in the book. A rustic scene, an animal picnic, and then, suddenly, fox rushes in from the bushes picks up a squawking hen and runs off. Bear, rabbit and another hen give chase, but it gradually becomes apparent that fox is after a friend, not a meal, and eventually, after a chase over mountains and sea, the friends are reunited, peace is made and the three chasers depart waving to fox and hen who wave arm in wing from the shore. Evocative illustrations which convey movement, emotion and the passing of time without a word, and lovely touches such as rabbit and hen using bear as a boat substitute. It’s another lovely story about how wrong our assumptions can be, and another reminder that a story can be told very effectively using only illustrations.

    23. Tomorrow’s Schools Today, May 2009

      It is said that a picture can be worth a thousand words. This might be why Beatrice Rodriguez has chosen to tell this unlikely love story for children by pictures alone.

      In this picture book, a fox sneaks into a farm and takes a chicken. With the chicken’s friends, a bear, a rabbit and a rooster in pursuit, the fox heads through forest, over mountain and far away to be with the chicken. As the pictures unfold, it is clear that the chicken and the fox are in love with each other.

      This book is as much about loyalty, friendships and misunderstandings as it is a love story. The three pursuers show great friendship and loyalty to chicken to keep following the couple but at the same time misunderstand the fox’s intentions towards the chicken. It is a book that can help develop a child’s imagination as they can imagine what is being said or can imagine text to go with the pictures on each page.

    24. Feilding Herald, 7 May 2009

      Beatrice Rodriguez is a successful freelance artist and this comes out well in the 32-page story without words. The expressions on the very simple faces of the rooster, rabbit and bear who pursue the fox who steals their friend the chicken, leaves absolutely no doubts about their intentions.

      They chase the unlikely pair through green forests, dark nights, a labyrinth of hillside tunnels, across the sea to an island, where the fox and chicken declare their love and live happily ever after with the blessing of their friends.

      Recommended for ages one and up, this book will delight adults and stimulate discussion about love and friendship and the natural world.

    25. Wairarapa News, 6 May 2009

      It looks like a case of Stockholm Syndrome in the world of animal make-believe. The Chicken Thief is a book entirely without words but involves a story full of crime, love and intrigue. A fox stealing a chicken is nothing new, but the dogged determination of the chicken’s pals in trying to rescue her is immensely endearing. The rooster, rabbit, and bear pursue the dastardly fox across all manner of terrain, only stopping to sleep at night. Obviously the chicken and fox create some sort of bond during their epic escape – the extent of which is only evident at the conclusion. When the trio of dedicated pursuers finally catch up with the fox in his hut on foreign shores they are amazed by the response of his captor.

      The great thing about a book like this is that you are able to interpret it how you wish. The vivid illustrations depicting a range of geographical scenes is rich with detail that would be perfect for coaxing descriptions from younger readers. There are a heap of questions that the storyline throws up which is another way to engage with children as you look at the pictures.

      The illustrator and author Beatrice Rodriguez studied at the Arts Decoratifs de Strasbourg and is a successful freelance illustrator. The Chicken Thief is another truly original children’s book published by Gecko Press. Gecko Press specialises in English versions of curiously good books from around the wolrd by well-estabilised authors and illustrators.

    26. Hawke’s Bay Today

      A clever book that tells a story through pictures rather than words. When a fox steals a chicken it seems like a nasty ending is just around the corner. But in a twist from the usual children’s story, this fox is not a villain, in fact the fox and chicken become friends and end up living out their days in an island paradise, much to the bemusement of the chicken’s friends, who take flight to try to rescue the bird. When they finally come across the fox and the chicken they find the two are firm friends. An interesting twist on the usual children’s story, and a feelgood friendship-themed book.

Available worldwide from your local bookstore or online.

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