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The Wolf's Chicken Stew
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About the Author

Keiko Kasza was born on a small Japanese island in the Inland Sea of Japan. She grew up in a typical Japanese extended family with her parents, two brothers, and grandparents. Uncles, aunts, and cousins also lived nearby. "All the steps I took growing up were very normal," Ms. Kasza says. "The only unusual thing I did was go to college in the United States." She graduated with a degree in graphic design from California State University at Northridge. Ms. Kasza married an American, and the United States has been her home ever since.

After publishing five children's books in Japan and working as a graphic designer for fourteen years, Ms. Kasza decided in 1988 to devote her time to picture books. She says, "Having two small boys and two professions was too much to handle."Ms. Kasza admires many great picture-book creators, such as Leo Lionni and Maurice Sendak, but says that the work of Arnold Lobel has influenced her the most. The subtle humor and warmth he created in his books continues to inspire me," she says. "I often go back to his work when I get discouraged or lose confidence."Ms. Kasza compares the process of making a book to acting on stage under the lights:
"I become the character that I'm working on at that moment. I pretend that I'm a bird looking for a mother, or a pig trying to impress his girlfriend. When I'm acting, I'm a child myself."Ms. Kasza's ambition is not to create a hundred books, but to "create one really good book that will be kept on the family bookshelves for generations, although a hundred really good books would be even better, of course!"Keiko Kasza lives in Indiana with her husband and two sons.copyright (c) 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

Reviews

An especially piggy wolf schemes to fatten up his prospective next meal by sending a parade of goodies to Mrs. Chicken's house; he gets his culinary comeuppance in grand fashion. Ages 4-8. (Oct.)

PreS-Gr 2 Resisting the immediate gratification of chicken stew, an insatiable wolf decides instead to fatten up his prey, leaving on her doorstep 100 ``scrumptious'' delicacies for each of three nights. On returning to claim his fat hen, he finds that her 100 chicks have shared the treats, and are now enamored of ``Uncle Wolf.'' Children will enjoy both the wolf's scheming and his comeuppance, as well as the story's repetitive form. The wolf's speech is problematic, though, as it switches from correct and somewhat formal usage (``Ah, she is just perfect for my stew'') to a sort of dialect (``Aw, shucks. . .I'll bake the little critters a hundred scrumptious cookies!''). Kasza's illustrations far surpass the story. Deft watercolors on wide open white pages, they convey the scheming wolf and the unflappable hen in a way that the text does not. The Wolf's Chicken Stew just needs a little more meat. David Gale, ``School Library Journal''

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