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Atwood, Margaret.

MANUSCRIPT: Chicken Little Goes Too Far.


Atwood, Margaret. Chicken Little Goes too Far…. N.p.: 2004.
Fifteen folio manuscript leaves; unevenly cut and unbound. In a specially made navy cloth slipcase with an illustrated cardstock label affixed to the upper panel.
Together with:
Atwood, Margaret. Chicken Little Goes too Far…. Toronto: Coach House Press, (2005).
Folio; blue Japanese bookcloth; illustrated label affixed to upper panel; blue Elephanthide endpapers; hot press watercolor paper; deckled edges; with colorful illustrations throughout.
Manuscript and facsimile edition. The printed edition is limited to twelve numbered copies signed on the title page (this is #10). The colophon of the manuscript edition, dated December 31, 2004, states, "This book exists only in a limited edition of one signed and numbered by the author. Text may appear in some other book. Illustrations are for this edition only." The two editions are identical in terms of text and illustrations, indicating that the printed edition was created from this manuscript. Both editions have a playful, whimsical feel, with black handwritten lettering covered in colored marker and cartoon-like illustrations.
An avid environmentalist, Atwood was commissioned to create these unique books for the Canada World Wildlife Fund's Auction for Nature held in Toronto in 2005. On the acknowledgments page (present only in the printed edition), she explains,
It's a measure of my essential optimism that I support WWF. They've had some wonderful success stories - they've shown what can be done to protect wild areas, to create marine parks, and to start reversing the damage that has been inflicted on our planet through pollution and wasteful consumption. If everyone did the same, imagine what could be accomplished.
In 2006, Atwood included "Chicken Little Goes too Far" in her collection of short stories and essays, The Tent.
Atwood's satirical adaptation of the Chicken Little story deviates from the traditional version in several significant ways. Usually, Chicken Little thinks the sky is falling because something (often an acorn) falls out of a tree and hits him in the head. Atwood's protagonist is more modern: he "read too many newspapers. He listened to the radio too much, and he watched too much television," and one day comes to the conclusion that the sky is falling. He finds Henny Penny, who is "loading groceries into her four-wheel-drive supervan" and breaks the news, explaining the "the sky is falling" is a metaphor and "represents all sorts of other things" that are "falling apart." Henny Penny scoffs and tells Chicken Little to "go home, have a beer, do some meditation."
Atwood continues to inject humor and social commentary as Chicken Little appeals to his other friends: Turkey Lurkey (a college professor), Goosey Loosey (a newspaper editor), Skunky Punky (a bartender), and Ducky Lucky (a lobbyist). They all refuse to help and tell Chicken Little that he's overreacting and that what is happening to the earth is normal and natural, and "not the result of human activity." After Skunky Punky tells Chicken Little that he is full of "bullshit tree-hugging crapola," Chicken Little forms a group called TSIF (The Sky is Falling) and starts a website. Sadly, only woodchucks and muskrats take him seriously. Eventually, TSIF attracts the attention of corporate real-estate developer Hoggy Groggy, who teams up with Foxy Loxy ("a devotee of zero accountability"). The story ends darkly, with Hoggy Groggy hiring Foxy Loxy to kill Chicken Little. "What'll you pay me?" Foxy Loxy asks. "The sky's the limit," Hoggy Groggy tells him. In the final illustration, Chicken Little is on the ground, covered in a blanket, with feathers scattered on the ground.        
In the classic fable, Chicken Little is an alarmist figure who overreacts and causes a panic over nothing. Ironically, Atwood twists the tale to suit her purposes, turning Chicken Little into a fallen hero, the only one who realizes where the earth is headed if no one does anything to save it.
Atwood's humorous "notice" on the final page reads in full:
 Chicken Little Goes too Far is a fable. The birds and animals in it are not real birds and  animals, and no reflection on the nature, intelligence, or moral orientation of any real  birds or animals is intended. The sky is a real sky, however, and it really is falling. You  heard it here first.    -The Author
To drive her message home, beneath the note is a drawing of the sun with a quote bubble that ominously says, "Without the sky, you'll all fry…"
(#8564 and 11986)

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