“Chicken Sunday” by Patricia Polacco
Author-artist, Patricia Polacco’s books are among the best loved ones in our home. We read and re-read her stories with unabated interest. “Chicken Sunday” is our most recent favorite. And pysanky (Ukrainian Easter eggs), featured in the story and showcased beautifully in Polacco’s artwork, make it a great read for Easter.
Even though neighbors Stewart and Winston are of a different race and religion, they are more like brothers to the little girl who narrates the story. The three children love the boys’ grandmother, Miss Eula, and their Sunday routine of going to church with her and eating her delicious fried chicken meal for dinner. They adore Gramma and her amazing voice when she sings at church.
One Sunday they decide to surprise her with a bonnet for Easter—the one bonnet Miss Eula has been eyeing in Mr.Kodinski’s window every Sunday. But when they are at Mr.Kodinski’s hat store, he mistakes them for some other rowdy boys who hurled eggs at his door. To prove their innocence, they spend an entire afternoon at the girl’s house decorating eggs the Ukrainian way—with beeswax and colorful dyes, and they present Mr.Kodinski with a basket full of them. Touched, Mr.Kodinski, a Russian immigrant himself (a subtle detail in the illustration also indicates that he is a holocaust survivor) lets them sell pysanky to his customers coming in during Easter and earn a few bucks. While the children are delighted to finally buy Gramma the hat, they are in for a surprise of their own!
A black-and-white photograph of Polacco, Stewart and Winston, as adults, is on the inside of the back cover. Like in most of Patricia Polacco’s books, this story is a slice of her life. And like always, there is an element pulled out of her Russian and Ukrainian roots. Her rich and detailed illustrations seem to bring all the characters and story to life. With cultures seamlessly amalgamating to celebrate love and friendship, this heart-warming story can be enjoyed for any holiday.