Waiting for Chicken Smith
Written and illustrated by David Mackintosh
Candlewick Press, 2019
A little boy is at his family’s summer beach house, and he can’t wait for his friend Chicken Smith to show up, too. Every year, Chicken Smith stays in the cabin next door with his dad and his dog, Jelly.
The narrator remembers Chicken Smith throwing a tennis ball for Jelly to retrieve and riding a bicycle without brakes. His sister Mary Ann keeps calling out to him, but he ignores her because he’s waiting for Chicken Smith.
He remembers going to the lighthouse with Chicken Smith, eating sandwiches Chicken’s dad made, and looking for whales with Chicken’s binoculars. They’d swim all day and sometimes Chicken let him on his dad’s surfboard.
Last year, Chicken Smith gave him a piece of driftwood carved into a whale. So, this year, he’s bought Chicken a crazy shell at a gas station.
He notices that Chicken’s cabin looks different, all shut up tight with cobwebs in the windows. A sign on the front porch says, “Summer Rental Inquire at Shop.”
Finally, he decides to follow his sister when she calls again. They go to the lighthouse and his sister calls out, “Look! There he is!”
And for the first time, he sees a whale. He and Chicken had never found one even with binoculars.
Then he and his sister race back in time for dinner. At the cabin, they look at a whale book and make plans to hunt for shells tomorrow.
The narrator hopes Chicken Smith will be back next year, but if he’s not, he thinks he’ll give the crazy shell to Mary Ann.
The illustrations are old fashioned-looking and lovely, helping tell this story of childhood friendship, the magic of summer, and the inevitability of change.
About the Author Illustrator
David Mackintosh has worked as an illustrator, designer, and art director with some of the most celebrated names in children’s publishing. His picture book “Marshall Armstrong is New to Our School” was short-listed for the Roald Dahl Funny Prize and nominated for the Kate Greenaway Medal. “Waiting for Chicken Smith” is his first book with Candlewick Press. He lives in London.