This is a hoot of a book! I get a kick out of it every time I read it. There is liberal french sprinkled throughout, several puns, and just ever so slightly tacky.
We get this from the library every year and the kids enjoy it about as much as I do.
The illustrations are part of the reason I love this book.
On the third day of Christmas a madamoiselle from Paris sent her true love three French hens, two turtledoves, and a partridge in a pear tree.
The hens never arrived.
Instead of Paris, the hens arrived at the unclaimed mail department in New York City.
Colette, Poulette, and Fifi were not about to be left languishing as undelivered mail when they had a true love to make happy. No, no!
After all...this was Christmas! And they were French!
Oh those French.
They knew the true love's name, Phillipe Renard. Alas, there was no such in the phone book.
"Zis is New York, not Paree," exclaimed Fifi. "We must translate! It is not Phillipe Renard, but Phil Fox who we must see!"
This must be read in a terrible French accent to be authentic.
They find Phil fox's address, and hare themselves away on the subway.
Phil Fox was a disreputable sort, down on his luck.
The hens--"Pouvons nous entree?"
Phil Fox--"Entree? Entree? Most definitely entree!"
Three French hens on his doorstep? It was better than Chinese takeout.
Before Phil could put his nefarious schemes of roasted chicken to practice, he was whisked off to the salle de bain for some pampering.
A bath had been foreign to Phil in the past. But if it was good enough for Phillipe, Phil thought he would give it a go.
By the time Colette was done with him, Phil knew he couldn't eat her.
And then Poulette dashed his hopes of eating her by transforming his house.
"I am a wonder with ze needle, thread, and evergreen! Oui?" Poulette said proudly.
And the drywall plaster, and masonry, and plumbing.... and.... and...
Phil Fox is living the dream.
However, though Phil may have felt toasty and looked swanky, his tummy was still cranky. When it began to grumble loudly, Phil's thoughts wandered to hen number three.
Oh, yes. Mr, Fox was planning dinner with Fifi.
Except Fifi staggers in under a load of french delicacies.
eh? Who needs chicken?
I adore these French hens. Aren't they delightful? High heels, bows, and clogs.
All this pampering makes Phil's underutlized conscience kicks into overdrive and he confesses he is not Phillipe Renard.
"Ladies, I gotta get this off my chest. I'm not who you think I am. I'm a fake!" cried Phil. "A phoney! Hey--I'm faux! I'm not even French!"
The three hens huddled, clucked, concluded, "Zat does not matter!"
"But I don't have a true love. I don't even get kissed under the mistletoe!"
"Zat does not matter!"
In gratitude, Phil tried to give the hens some of the presents the hens had wrapped up for him. But they refused. When pressed, they declared
"....our holiday is Hanukkah. We're kosher chickens."
I laugh almost every time I read that.
This could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Phil's cockroach sidekick even gets in on the celebratory action!
This book makes me laugh every time.