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A New Friend for Sally (2014)

Written by David Tang

Illustrated by Lora Lee

Tiny Robot Books

This is the story of a young girl, Sally, growing up on a farm with only her dear old dad to keep her company. Day after day, she asks for a pet... anything to dull the ennui of the farmer's daughter! And then, one day... pulling up in his bright, blue pick-up, out comes her father with nothing less than a chicken!

A chicken is decidedly not her notion of a pet. In fact, we discover that she's been afraid of chickens her entire life, since she was a little girl! Way to go, dad!

Why does she fear the chicken so much? Is it the strange dietary customs?

"Look at that beak!" she thought,
it made her squirm.
And "why oh why,
is it eating a worm?!"

Regardless, during a particularly thunderous rainstorm, a friendship is struck.

The artwork is really gorgeous. I don't usually pay too close attention to the colors of a book... and sometimes I think a lot of illustrators don't pay too close attention to the colors either... but here the colors really lend the illustrations extra vibrancy. There's a lot going on, even in the detail above... you could spend a lot of time sifting through the shadows and the highlights... the deep blue of the outside contrasted with the warmth of the inside.Everything is incredibly thought-out. The pictures tell a story of their own.

In fact, they literally did tell the story on their own. At first. David Tang, the illustrator told me that the book started out as a project that Lora Lee had done for a children's book class she took. She had a week to come up with the idea and a mock-up. It was only after that that David was brought on board to write the story (they originally met on a reality TV show in Singapore).

"I decided to make the words rhyme," he told me. "Unfortunately, this would prove rather tricky - because not only did I have to fit the words around existing pages, each spread only had 2 sentences and some words don't have many rhyming options. And even when they did, the rhyming word may be too complicated for children. For example "chicken" rhymes with "stricken" - but that's a word that might confuse some kids, and as a result interrupt the story flow. And when one of your main characters is a chicken - that's limiting because now your sentences can't end with that word!"

This is why I myself choose not to write or speak in rhyme.

However, I think David did a fine job!

It's not part of the story, but I love this page. 'Tiny Robot Books" is Lora and David's imprint, and they designed everything about it themselves. This reminds me of one of my Little Golden Books I had as a kid, but the presence of the big-eyed robot at the bottom staring back at me makes for an interesting contrast!

Click here to help with their kickstarter goal and purchase a copy!

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