Cover image for The painter who loved chickens
The painter who loved chickens
Dunrea, Olivier.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1995.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 21 x 26 cm
An artist, who loves to paint chickens, finally finds someone that appreciates his pictures.
Reading Level:
380 Lexile.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf

On Order



An artist, who loves to paint chickens, finally finds someone that appreciates his pictures.

Author Notes

Olivier Dunrea was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia in 1953. He earned a B.A. from West Chester State College in 1975 and his M.A. in theater and music from Washington State University the following year. Beginning in 1983 Dunrea has written and illustrated more than 50 books for children. The gosling characters Gossie and Ollie are two of his most beloved creations.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Ages 4-8. In one of those weird publishing coincidences, Dunrea's picture book tells almost the same story as Porte's Chickens! Chickens! [BKL F 1 95]. Both books are about an artist who wants only to paint chickens: he's trapped in the city, where no one appreciates him, until he's saved by a woman (in this case, a wealthy art lover), who helps him move to a farm, raise chickens, and paint them in all their glory. Dunrea's exquisitely detailed gouache illustrations show an auburn-bearded artist, a bit like Van Gogh, whose world is somewhere between Holland and Pennsylvania Dutch. Chickens are everywhere in the full-page framed pictures of the artist at work. In addition, on each page of text, a small circular frame shows a particular chicken breed, from Blue Cochin to Partridge Rock, every feather and detail lovingly realized. It's a zany story, a joyful celebration of following your dream. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

The hero of this quiet but inspiring picture book has a secret, quirky ambition. He longs to leave the city, where he earns a modest living by painting fine portraits of ``people, penguins and poodles,'' and buy a farm where he can paint his favorite subject: chickens. But just when it seems that chicken-painting will remain a hobby, the artist's work impresses a wealthy customer (and fellow fowl aficionado) and the direction of his life changes. Dunrea's (Deep Down Underground) unassuming text straightforwardly conveys his emotion-filled, clearly delineated story. His sunny gouache paintings, liberally splashed with oranges, yellows and reds, are a chicken-lover's delight-each page features a tiny portrait of a variety of fowl, e.g., Blue Cochin or Black Langshan, in addition to plenty of whimsical chicken-related decoration. Full-page illustrations, meanwhile, provide an intriguing behind-the-scenes look at an artist at work. Ages 5-8. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

K-Gr 2‘Dunrea recounts the story of Moel Eyris, a Dutch artist who is forced to live in the city and paint poodles, penguins, and people in order to make ends meet. He'd rather be surrounded by and devote his talents to his favorite subjects‘chickens. A patron of the arts who happens into his studio and knows something special when she sees it demands to purchase his in-progress portrait of an egg. One thing leads to another, and a deal is struck: she gets his chicken paintings, and he gets a farm. Carefully composed gouache scenes are executed in a palette largely comprised of oranges, rusts, and browns. Facing each full-page illustration is a page of text on white, above which is a portrait of a chicken, exquisitely rendered and full of texture and detail. The story is most interesting when the patron discusses the egg; the conversation comes to life through her enthusiasm for the fresh, the atypical. It is otherwise difficult to warm up to the unhappy, eccentric painter who, despite his poverty, hesitates to sell his latest creation. He changes his mind, however, when the woman writes a check for ``an enormous amount of money.'' The understated conclusion is not much to cluck about either. It is clear that the painter becomes famous; his affection for the chickens is not as successfully demonstrated or explained. Readers are therefore left with an odd sense of dissatisfaction. Mary Hoffman's Amazing Grace (Dial, 1991) and Karen Barbour's Little Nino's Pizzeria (Harcourt, 1991) present characters whose passions propel them into action and whose dreams are more accessible.‘Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.