Chicken Joy on Redbean Road
A Bayou Country Romp
By Jacqueline Briggs Martin
Illustrated by Melissa Sweet
- What was the initial inspiration for the book? How did Miss Cleoma two-step into the story?
- How do you know when you’ve met a good idea?
- What is your favorite part of the writing process? Do you have any advice for young writers?
- How do you decide your palette for each book?
- What’s your favorite part of the illustrating process?
- What advice do you have for young artists?
Pre-reading Activity: What is your favorite type of music? Do people in different parts of the country (or even the world) listen to different kinds of music? What changes in the music from place to place? Have you ever heard of the bayou? What type of music do you think is popular in Louisiana?
- Joe Beebee’s music “set empty shoes to dancing.” What do you think this means? What music makes you want to dance?
- Describe how the day gets started on Mrs. Miser Vidrine’s place.
- How does blue-headed roo lose his voice? Why does this lead to conflict?
- Mrs. Miser Vidrine is described as “nothing bur practical.” How is someone practical? What is the opposite of practical? Which one are you?
- What strategy do the chickens come up with to save blue roo? Who can make a difference? Why?
- Explain how Miss Cleoma shares the story about roo to the residents of Redbean Road. How is important news shared on your street?
- Miss Cleoma doesn’t hold out much hope that Joe Beebee will play for a bunch of chickens. Why? Have you ever felt like something was impossible?
- What is a bal de maison? Did you have to look up the words in a dictionary to figure out the meaning? What should a reader do if they don’t have a dictionary handy?
- What does Joe Beebee’s music do for people? What do they forget about when he plays? Are there songs or musicians who have the same effect on you?
- Where do the ducks, roosters and hens live in the end? What plans does Mrs. Miser make? Why?
Across the curriculum:
There are terrific new words in Chicken Joy on Redbean Road. Have children choose two new words to explore with this vocabulary graphic organizer.
Possible words (or allow children to pick from unknown words as they read or listen): parish, sonorous, glorious, gratifying, practical, strategy, two-step, bal de maison, bons temps, beaucoup, laissez les bons temps roulé.
Collect some songs mentioned in the author’s note and share with your students. Have children rate the various pieces from 1-10 (10 as their favorite). Discuss how the music changes according to its instrumentation, rhythm, lyrics, and mood.
Have children create their own instruments out of common household items: spoons, coins in various containers, a homemade fiddle (like Joe Beebee’s), etc. Experiment with sound by playing along with the recordings or on your own.
Cajun Music Hall of Fame:
Have children research one of the musicians from the author’s note to create a Cajun music hall of fame. Each child should illustrate a portrait of the artist with information about their background printed neatly beneath. This will make a great bulletin board or hallway display.
Sing this song about the book to the tune Freré Jacques (then try it in a round or use junk band instruments to add dimension!)
Played his fiddle
Played his fiddle
Redbean worries were forgot
He saved the rooster from the pot
Pim, pam, pum!
Pim, pam, pum!
Read about Melissa Sweet on the back flap. How did she prepare to illustrate this story? Are you surprised by the care she took with the details? What does it mean to be authentic in art? Pretend you are writing a story about your own region. Take pictures (or find them in local newspapers and publications) to find details of the architecture, flora and fauna, residents, typical animals, and landscape (city or country, etc.) and then create at least ten sketches that would help you illustrate a local story. Write one inspired by your art.
Figure out these word problems based on the book:
If Mrs. Miser’s soup pot will serve up 60 bowls of soup and 30 people attend the bal de maison, then how many bowls of soup can each person have?
If Mrs. Miser sold every last bit of soup how much money would she have in her pocket if each bowl cost ten cents?
Mrs. Miser figures out that next year, if she plants five extra rows of vegetables, she can make two pots of soup instead of one. How many more bowls of soup would that be? How much more money would she make at the next bal de maison?
Explore the science of music (through the National Science Foundation). Fabulous interactive site!