Tuesday, January 19, 2016
MIDDLE GRADE REVIEW: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
ABOUT THE BOOK
Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse....
And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.
Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickensis a quirky, clucky classic in the making.
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer is the sort of book that you read just for fun. There aren't any really deep, heart-wrenching themes that require a large emotional investment. There are themes here of independence, learning to do hard things, commitment, honesty, etc, but they come across with a light touch. Sophie makes a great heroine having moved to her great uncle's farm from L.A. She doesn't waste time feeling sorry for herself but immediately gets to work when she discovers Henrietta one of her great uncle's chickens wandering around. However, it doesn't take long for her to realize that this isn't an ordinary chicken. And as she writes letters to the Redwood Farm Supply (where the chickens came from), as well as her deceased grandmother and great uncle, the reader starts to realize that these chickens have superpowers, rather unusual ones. And as Sophie quickly discovers, someone else wants to get their hands on these chickens. The question becomes whether Sophie can convince her parents to let her keep the chickens and whether she can keep them safe from the chicken thief. With lots of fun details, Jones takes the reader on a fun ride through chickendom, teaching lesson not only about chickens, but about friendship and courage along the way. The humorous illustrations by Katie Kath add the perfect touch, giving hints about what's to come (my favorite pictures show Henrietta the chicken glaring at everyone and everything). Unusual Chickens is magical realism at its finest.