Chicken Big
Chicken Big
Chicken Big

Chicken Big

Chronicle Books, San Francisco, California, 2010


Project brief: Chicken Big is a witty picture book meant to appeal to children ages four to eight. Written and illustrated by seasoned children’s author Keith Graves, the story is a parody of the classic Chicken Little fable, except in this version the chicken is no dummy (not to mention he’s enormous!). Our goal was to make sure the dry humor and the punch line of the book title came across in a singular cover image. We actually went through an inordinate amount of cover versions, but we knew we had a winner when the cover that got picked was shown at the cover meeting and everyone chuckled; it was very instinctual.

Approach: Though Keith had illustrated several other picture books before Chicken Big, we wanted to see if he could push himself away from his usual style a bit. We asked him to experiment with his color palette by limiting it to a few special colors, and to play with an overall more graphic look. All the credit goes to Keith: he took that little bit of feedback and launched a completely new and distinct style. He got really into his new style and came up with some more experimental comic-strip-inspired page layouts. He also added frenetic hand lettering throughout, which really helped enhance the read-aloud and humor aspects of the story. Keith did crayon-like line-art drawings in a graphic, blocked-in manner. The effect is a little like silk-screening and has a certain nostalgic quality.

Effectiveness: We consider this cover a success because it makes people laugh right away. It takes about one second to get the joke if you know the classic Chicken Little tale. It’s simple, graphic and appealing. Chicken Big was the only children’s book selected in the “Best book jackets of 2010” roundup by BookPage. It was also an E.B. White Read-Aloud finalist.

Juror Notes

Simply perfect crop for a children’s book. The negative space is so inviting.

Collections: 50 Books | 50 Covers of 2010
Repository: Denver Art Museum
Discipline: Book design
Format: Book, Book cover


Design firm
Chronicle Books
Art director
Amelia Anderson
Rachel Liang
Keith Graves
Production coordinator
Steve Kim
Keith Graves
Julie Romeis
Chronicle Books