This week in Tablet magazine: Why do so many Jewish children’s books feature chickens?
My editor Wayne overruled my refusal to make a joke about “chick lit,” but at least it’s in the headline and not the text. And I was sorry I did not find a way to quote Erica Perl (who writes funny Jewish middle grade novels starring dogs and humans, and funny little-kid picture books starring chickens, but never the Jewish-chicken book twain have met) OR my brilliant SorryWatch colleague Susan McCarthy, who writes fabulous books about animal behavior. She recently did a great SorryWatch post about the exciting news of a giant salmonella outbreak traced to Foster Farms chicken, a (GOYISH) company that refuses to do teshuvah about poisoning people. (Do I have to say “allegedly?” ALLEGEDLY.) And she has good insights into why chickens are amusing and kid-friendly.
Anyway, chickens are cute and unscary and vulnerable, and chicken mamas are loving and protective and chicken papas are hilariously self-important and chicken babies are cute little puffballs, and chickens in Jewish children’s books are safe ways to hearken back to the Old Country and positive feelings about Jewishness divested from thorny issues of ritual practice, assimilation and modernity, and chickens just FEEL JEWISH, and uh, well, or you could just go read the column.
Mark McKinney is not a Jewish chicken. But funny!