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Mr Chicken Goes to Mars

By Leigh Hobbs
Reviewed by Mia Macrossan
Leigh Hobbs is an Australian artist and author. He is best known for the humorous children’s books which he has written and illustrated, including the Mr Chicken series, Horrible Harriet and Old Tom series. He was the Australian Children’s Laureate for 2016-17. He is immensely popular with children who love drawing his subversive characters.
Mr Chicken Goes to Mars is the latest adventure of the widely travelled Mr Chicken, he’s been everywhere in the world and now he wants to go to Mars. He goes to Boris the rocket builder who makes him the deluxe model complete with every home comfort.
Leigh has had a lot of fun inventing scientific sounding equipment that Mr Chicken has to work out how to use – inertial guidance injector, fission force fluctuator and the trans-lunar-injection transponder. During his trip he meets a Martian 9 a classic one -eyed green being), heading for earth, has lunch at a space station before landing on Mars. There he makes lots of friends but decides to go home to earth because he has things to do.
This book is so much fun. The front endpapers show Mr Chicken being very grumpy  doing all his household chores and the back show the friendly one-eyed green Martian.
Leigh talks about Mr Chicken in the Teaching Notes :
Where did the idea of Mr Chicken come from? I don’t remember how Mr Chicken came about, as in the exact moment he was born and took shape inside my head. However, I had the initial idea and did sketches for the first Mr Chicken book Mr Chicken Goes To Paris while I was in the Louvre Museum bookshop in Paris. Where, I might add, the book has been on sale ever since.
Why do you think children respond so well to him? I suspect it’s because he’s a grotesque, ridiculous looking monster who has many of the positive attributes which kids relate to. For instance, he’s adventurous, curious, loves making friends, is polite and, perhaps most importantly, he’s funny. Also, I think children have an innate sense of fun when given the opportunity… just like Mr Chicken. Oh, and he loves eating. Especially cakes and gelato.
What inspired you to send him into space this time? The very idea of Mr Chicken squeezed into a rocket leaving Earth enroute to Mars was irresistible. And, of course, he’d be thrilled to be leaving Earth and all those tedious domestic chores – not to mention the opportunity to make some new Martian friends.
Another certain winner for Leigh Hobbs.
Teaching Notes can be downloaded from the publisher’s website.
Allen & Unwin Children 2023


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