Mei Mei has the six happiest hens in China. She gives them treats and fresh hay baths, and when she calls to them-gu gu gu gu gu!-they all run to her as fast as they can. But one of the hens, Daisy, is not always so happy. The other hens pick on Daisy and push her off the perch every night, knowing that she is too small to stand up to them. Then one day Daisy accidentally drifts out onto the river in a basket and must quickly learn how to survive. When Daisy finds her way home, this plucky little hen is no longer afraid.
Jan Brett and her husband, Joe, traveled with their daughter-in-law, Yun, and her husband, Sean, to China, the land where Yun was born. During this trip, Jan found the inspiration for Daisy's story.
Inspired in part by the classic story of Ping, the adventurous young duck on the Yangtze River, Brett's (The Mitten) spirited, intricately illustrated tale centers on Daisy, the smallest of Mei Mei's six hens. Escaping the taunts of the larger hens, the beleaguered creature leaves the henhouse one rainy night to sleep in an egg basket at the edge of the Li River. But soon the rising water reaches the basket, and the current sweeps Daisy downstream. While a distraught Mei Mei searches for her, Daisy encounters (and cleverly escapes from) a dog, a water buffalo and a troop of monkeys before being snatched up by a fisherman who can't wait to sell her at market. Mei Mei's nick-of-time rescue of Daisy will bring smiles to young faces as will Daisy's new status in the hen house. In the main frame of each paneled spread, Brett depicts in fine detail the diverse wildlife and lush vegetation found along the Li, while smaller images in the corners amplify elements of the plot. Incorporating simulated bamboo patterns, basket weaves and painted pottery, the artist's trademark borders and embellishments intriguingly evoke the timeless setting. The elegance of the illustrations gains a touch of whimsy as Brett hides some surprises in the distant mountains. Ages 4-8. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.