THE HOBOKEN CHICKEN EMERGENCY by Daniel Pinkwater
Arthur’s job is picking up the turkey for the Bobowicz’s Thanksgiving dinner, which should be easy, right?
Except the butcher has lost the Bobowicz’s order, and he doesn’t have any extras. In fact, nobody in Hoboken seems to have a turkey for sale. Or a chicken. Or a duck. Or anything remotely bird-y. Arthur is wandering the streets, getting increasingly panicked — what will everyone say if he comes home without the star of the Thanksgiving table — when he spots a CHICKENS FOR SALE sign on an apartment door. Instead of a shady poultry vendor, Arthur finds a mad scientist looking to get rid of some seriously oversized chickens. Arthur buys a 266-pound chicken, but by the time they get home, he’s decided that he’d rather have a pet than a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Mrs. Bobowicz makes meatloaf for dinner instead, and the chicken — named Henrietta — becomes part of the family.
Of course, life with a 266-pound chicken isn’t always easy, and when Henrietta escapes, the citizens of Hoboken freak out, treating the perfectly nice chicken like a monster until she’s so hurt and angry with their unkindness that she starts acting like a monster. Arthur knows his sweet chicken is still in there, and he’s determined to save the day.
This is such a fun, funny readaloud with a great message about the ways that ignorance can make us act like — well, jerks if we don’t recognize it. Any book that emphasizes kindness and not being afraid of differences feels totally in the spirit of Thanksgiving to me. It’s a quirky, fun tour of Hoboken, and if you’ve been there, you’ll recognize the docks, the park, and other locations where Henrietta and Arthur’s adventures take them. Even though it was written in 1977, the book has a casual diversity that feels refreshing, and I love that it’s a Thanksgiving book that isn’t all about the Pilgrims.