Poultrygeist by Eric Geron and Pete Oswald (Illustrator) (2021) is a picture book that tackles head-on the dual nature of the "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke. It's also a rather irreverent look at death and roadkill.
It's one of the first jokes children learn and little ones take it literally where the joke is that there isn't a joke. The joke then becomes one of word play. For example: "Why did the child cross the playground? To get to the other slide."
For adults the chicken joke seems to be a litmus test to see if one is neurotypical or not. Online discourse goes something like: "Did you know that the chicken joke is about death?" In one of these lengthy threads of people responding that they were "todays years old" when they learned the death punchline to the chicken joke someone posted a link to Poultrygeist and it became an instant purchase for me.
It's set up like a typical isekai, except that it's a chicken — the chicken — in the middle of a country road. At the horizon is truck-kun in the form of a red and white eighteen wheeler.
Turn the page and the remaining plot with the chicken is set at night. The chicken is now a blue ghostly outline of its self. Floating on the other side, or if you prefer, el Otro Lado, are numerous different ghost animals who are there to welcome the chicken and break the sad news that they are a former fowl.
As with the little kid version of the joke the road kill explanations of the situation are done as puns. As it's a picture book, these puns are also part of a larger rhyming scheme.
It's a short, dark, and very silly take on a difficult subject. It's one of those picture books that works well with older children — aka teenagers — as well as the intended kindergarten to grade three age range.