Mother Carey's Chickens follows the adventures- and misadventures- of the Carey family as, after the sudden death of their father, they move to a house in rural Maine where it is much cheaper to live. This part of the story is at least partly autobiographical; when Wiggin was quite young her family lived in Philadelphia. After the death of her father however, Kate's mother moved her family to rural Maine to live.
One joke which carries throughout the book is the saga of the hideous sculpture which was given to the family by their wealthy, well-meaning but taste-challenged aunt. This garish image of a young boy and a washtub is entitled "You Dirty Boy" and it is hated by the entire family. They can't get rid of it without offending their aged relative, however, so the children contrive at numerous "accidents" in an attempt to dispose of it. Unfortunately, the sculpture has more lives than the proverbial cat and keeps emerging unscathed, to the mystification and frustration of the Carey children.
In 1963, Disney produced a musical film based on Mother Carey's Chickens entitled Summer Magic. It starred Hayley Mills, Dorothy McGuire, and Burl Ives. I have seen this- saw it before I read the book, in fact. It's... not the worst thing I've ever seen. A lot of characters have been cut out- including one of the Carey children- and the plot somewhat changed, though not nearly as much as in the 1938 film. On the plus side, I love Burl Ives in everything. I guess what I'm saying is that Summer Magic is watchable, but the book is a lot better.