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Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch: A Children's Book that Promotes Reading

Updated on August 17, 2011
Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch Henrietta helps her friends avoid becoming the main course in this deliciously silly tale about a chicken who isn't, and the power of reading.
Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch Henrietta helps her friends avoid becoming the main course in this deliciously silly tale about a chicken who isn't, and the power of reading.

Reading Saves the Day

In SouperChicken by Mary Jane and Herman Auch (2004), reading saves the day for the plucky heroine and her unwitting farm animal friends. SouperChicken is a tale about a passionate reader named Henrietta. Henrietta is at first teased, then applauded when her reading skills help her foil the farmer's plot to turn her friends into chicken soup.

The trouble on the chicken farm begins on the day when Henrietta and her aunties are told they are going on vacation, because the aunties have stopped laying eggs. The farmer cackles to himself as he makes one silly joke after another relating to cooking and chicken soup. Henrietta is suspicious of the farmer's behavior, but her worst fears are confirmed when the truck taking the Hens reveals the name of a popular soup-making company. Henrietta is beside herself, and bravely takes a wild ride on the chicken truck to the chicken factory in hope of rescuing her friends. Along the way she meets other unwitting animals who also need to be rescued on her journey to the chicken factory, including pigs on a sausage truck and cows on a hamburger truck. Henrietta wings her way through rescuing her friends by reading directions and piecing together clues. She keeps her head and reads her way through a complicated security system out of the factory floor, and then looks for clues to help find a farm where she won't be in danger of becoming lunch. Henrietta's prowess takes the book to a satisfying conclusion with a humorous twist where our heroine and friends find respite from their brush with doom at the vegeterian's organic farm.

You will enjoy the puns, word play, and visual humor of this silly tale with an important message about the power of reading. In the story, Henrietta persists in acknowledging the importance of learning to read, and even more important, to think critically about her reading.

Though her friends tease her for being a little too much of a bookworm (bookhen?), she ignores the teasing and continues to pursue her studies. At the end of the story, Henrietta becomes a reading teacher, making this book a perfect gift for any educator who plays a role in empowering future readers and leaders of tomorrow.

The moral of the story? Knowledge is power, and reading is a sure path to knowledge. And conversely, ignorance not only ISN'T bliss, it is downright dangerous. If you are looking for a perfect Teacher Appreciation Week gift or want to make a meaningful addition to a new teacher's library, consider this book.

Book Design

The illustrations by Herm Auch are vividly colorful, giving the book a wildly over-the-top feeling, The large page size make this an excellent choice for reading aloud, and the vivid pictures are easy to see. The expressions on the faces of the animals are really funny. Take for instance, the looks on the pigs' faces when they learn they are headed for the sausage factory.

The illustrations are loaded with visual jokes, including the names of the books that the hens read at the end of the story. The illustrations complement the text of the story very well. The Auchs make a great collaborative team.


  • Farm animals
  • Chickens
  • Humor
  • Reading
  • Problem solving
  • Organic farming
  • Making choices
  • Importance of Education

Reading this Book in a Classroom

SouperChicken is an appropriate read-aloud for the Kindergarten and up crowd. Teachers will enjoy the exciting and page-turning plot. The chicken-related wordplay in this story will have you clucking to yourself.

As a read alone storybook, I recommend this book for the average early second grader, where the transition to reading chapter books begins about the middle of the second grade year. This book has a lot of text in its 32 pages, so I don't recommend it for beginning readers, unless the reader has a special interest in chickens.

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More Recommended Children's Books

Please feel to explore some of my favorite children's books listed here!

Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi Barrett · A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams · Babies by Gyo Fujikawa · Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See by Bill Martin and Eric Carle · Charley Harper's ABCs by Charlie Harper · Christmas Cookies: Bite-Size Holiday Lessons · Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes · Daughter of a King by Rachel Ann Nunes · Excuse Me! By Lisa Kopelke · Gregory the Terrible Eater by Mitchell Sharmat · Harry and The Terrible Whatzit by Dick Gackenbach · Hilda Must Be Dancing by Karma Wilson · I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll · I'd Choose You by John Trent · Joseph Had a Little Overcoat by Simms Taback · King of Kings by Susan Hill · Ladybug Girl by Jacky Davis and David Soman · Lily's Purple Plastic Purse by Kevin Henkes · Llama Llama Mad at Mama by Anna Dewdney · Llama Llama Misses Mama by Anna Dewdney · Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle · No David! by David Shannon · Olivia by Ian Falconer · Out of the Ocean by Debra Frasier · Snowballs by Lois Ehlert · So Much by Trish Cooke and Helen Oxenbury · Souperchicken by Mary Jane and Herm Auch · The Gingerbread Boy by Paul Galdone · The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle · The King With Six Friends by Jay Williams · The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah by Leslie Kimmelman · The Little Red Hen Makes a Pizza by Philemon Sturges · The Littlest Angel by Charles Tazewell · The Patchwork Quilt by Valerie Flournoy · The Red Shoes a Fairy Tale by Gloria Fowler and Sun Young Yoo · The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats · Tikki Tikki Tembo by Arlene Mosel · Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White · Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak · Yoon and the Christmas Mitten by Helen Recorvits


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  • wannabwestern profile image

    Carolyn Augustine 6 years ago from Iowa

    The Auchs make a hilarious author/illustrator team. They have written quite a collection of zany and far-fetched stories. Many of them are poultry tales.

  • Enlydia Listener profile image

    Enlydia Listener 6 years ago from trailer in the country

    Funny and interesting story line for a book.