Book Review: Hen Hears Gossip

Author: Megan McDonald
Illustrated by Joung Un Kim
Interest Level: Ages 4-8

From the Book Jacket: Hen hears Pig whisper a secret to Cow ("Psst. Psst. Psst."), and in no time at all Hen tells Duck ("Psst. Psst. Psst.") who tells Goose ("Psst. Psst. Psst.") who tells Turkey ("Psst. Psst. Psst.")  who tells Hen ("Psst. Psst. Psst.") something not so nice about Hen herself. "WHHAAT?" Hen is outraged. She's got to figure out who's behind the rumor. But will she discover even more than she bargained for?

Why It's On My Bookshelf: The first time I read Hen Hears Gossip I wasn't really sure if I could use it. Actually, I wasn't really sure HOW to use it. It sort of reminded me of the telephone game. Where we all sit around in a circle, someone whispers a few short sentences in the ear of the next person and so on around the circle. When it got to the last person, they would announce what they heard. It usually never comes close to the original message, and is so distorted that we all have a really good laugh. So yes, this would be a great way to use the book. But then I read it again and totally figured out another angle based on a line from the story, "Gossip! Hen loved gossip!" A lot of people love gossip. Why? Why are we attracted to gossip? Why does Hen love it so much? She's a bit obsessed with gossiping. Maybe Hen has low self-esteem, maybe she thinks it's entertaining, or maybe she thinks this is part of friendship. Kids need to know gossip is toxic. Gossip has no purpose. And if we're running around talking in a hurtful manner about everyone - we need to take stock. I asked the students to give me a list of reasons of why gossiping would be a positive thing. They couldn't come up with anything. However, we ran out of room on the white board listing all of the negative things about gossip. If you use this book, I encourage you to explore Hen's "need" to gossip. And yes, the telephone game is always fun too but I try and take a serious tone on this subject with kids.

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