Saturday, September 24, 2016

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones (ill. Katie Kath)

Sophia, her Mom, and her Dad have moved to her late great uncle's farm in Gravenstein.  Her Mom is busy writing free-lance articles all day and her Dad is trying (without success) to find a job and (halfheartedly) working out how to run the place.  Soph doesn't know what to do herself until the day she comes across one very angry chicken, that is, a very angry chicken that has telekinetic powers and lays glass eggs!  Then another chicken shows up that can disappear and another that moves super fast.  She doesn't know much about taking care of chickens, but even without the help of her local librarian she can tell these are unusual chickens.  Some guidance from the local Redwood Farm Supply company gives her the basics, but there are some tricky challenges in the form of a sinister neighbor and her own special poultry.  Soph will have to become a truly exceptional carer of chickens if this is going to work out!

A lovely middle reader that combines entertaining facts about raising poultry with some fantasy and magic (and lots of amusing illustrations).  Mostly told through letters that Sophia writes to her late grandmother and to the owner of the Supply complany, Soph is revealed to be resourceful and insightful.  In an age appropriate way, she is not always strong enough for her challenges but still determined, brave, and well-grounded.  CCBC called this book out for the fact that she's also Latina, but not a lot is made of that (which is precisely what makes the book special).  I found the book a lovely break from the darkness of teen reading and also enjoyed its Sonoma county setting as well as the chickens themselves.

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