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Mei-Mei had the six happiest hens in China. She gave them treats and fresh hay baths, and when she called to them-gu gu gu gu gu!-they all ran to her as fast as they could. But one of the hens, Daisy, was not always so happy. The other hens picked on Daisy and pushed her off the perch every night. Then one day, Daisy is accidentally washed out onto the river in a basket and she soon learns to stand up for herself. When she finds her way home, this plucky little hen is no longer afraid as she bravely takes her place on the roost.
Jan Brett traveled to China to do research for the glorious illustrations in this heart-warming tale of self-esteem and self-confidence.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. As they sailed down the Li River in the Guang Xi Province, Jan was reminded of a favorite story from childhood, The Story of Ping. There were the cormorants, and the fishermen.
But what made a lasting impression was the river itself, with mountains in unusual shapes towering above and small villages along the way with their colorful markets and brightly dressed children.
All of these memories became a backdrop for Daisy's adventures. Why a hen for her spunky heroine? Perhaps Daisy was inspired by Jan's hens at home: Pansy, Bluebell, and Dahlia. Picked on, pecked, and jostled, Daisy the hen is not quite as happy as her Happy Hens market basket might suggest. One evening, fed up with the other pushy hens, Daisy crawls into one of the baskets by the river, and falls asleep. Unaware of the rising river, this put-upon bird winds up floating downstream, past marauding monkeys, snorting water buffalo, and a greedy fisherman. Will Daisy ever make her way back to the home of the little girl Mei Mei and the six happiest hens in all of China? Breaking away from her usual Scandinavian illustrations and stories, Jan Brett embraces the beauty of China in this Story About Ping-inspired picture book. Bamboo poles frame the lavish illustrations of picturesque villages, strangely shaped mountains (Brett incorporates images of the animals into the ranges), and river-life characters. As in The Hat and her many other tales, Brett advances the plot with miniature border details. (Ages 4 to 7) --Emilie Coulter