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|Unusual chickens for the exceptional poultry farmer|
Author: Jones, Kelly
Through a series of letters, Sophie Brown, age twelve, tells of her family's move to her Great Uncle Jim's farm, where she begins taking care of some unusual chickens with help from neighbors and friends.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 5.20
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 174131
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 5.70
Points: 9.0 Quiz: 66162
Kirkus Reviews (+) (02/01/15)
School Library Journal (+) (02/01/15)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (09/15)
The Hornbook (00/05/15)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2015 Gr 4–6—Sophie Brown is new to farm life, new to being one of the only "brown people" in town (the others being her mother and Gregory, the mailman), and definitely new to caring for chickens—and these are some challenging chickens. To help herself adjust to life away from Los Angeles and her extended family, she writes letters to her great-uncle Jim and her beloved Abuelita, both recently deceased, and embarks on a correspondence course in poultry care with the mysterious Agnes of Redwood Farm Supply. Agnes's poorly typed responses assure Sophie that the chickens that keep turning up on the farm (including Henrietta, a small white hen with a permanent unibrow of fury) belonged to her great-uncle, from whom Sophie's father inherited the farm and who implores her to keep the chickens safe—and to be careful. But how will she protect chickens that are capable of levitating their own coop, becoming invisible, and turning enemies to stone? And why does the town's resident chicken expert, Ms. Griegson, seem intent on stealing Sophie's brood? Told in letters, quizzes, newspaper clippings, and delicious ink drawings reminiscent of Quentin Blake, this middle grade epistolary novel has a little magic and a lot of warm family humor. Jones delivers a dynamic Latina protagonist in Sophie, who describes her experiences in satisfying detail: the discomfort of facing microaggressions based on her heritage (such as when the town librarian assumes that she and her family are migrant workers); love and concern for her parents, both struggling to find and keep work; and willingness to learn and grow despite typical tween self-consciousness. VERDICT Readers will cheer for Sophie and clamor for more of those amazing chickens. Exceptional, indeed.—Amy Martin, Oakland Public Library, CA - Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 04/01/2015 Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown has a lot on her plate: her beloved abuelita is dead; her father has lost his job, so the family has moved from L.A. to her great-uncle Jim’s farm while they regroup; she has no friends; and most people she encounters in the predominantly white town think she is a migrant worker. In an attempt to stave off loneliness, Sophie contacts a poultry farm and requests information on purchasing and raising chickens. In a sequence of letters, Sophie tells the story of how she comes into the possession of five extraordinary chickens, foils the attempts of a neighboring farmer to steal her distinctive poultry, and eventually finds her place in her new community. Full-page illustrations work with the epistolary format to tell a story that is as much about the process of grieving as it is about supernatural chickens. The combination of real-life emotion and otherworldly farming makes for a comedic story with the right amount of pathos. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.
Bulletin for the Center... - 09/01/2015 In this epistolary novel, twelve-year-old L.A. native Sophie and her parents are adjusting to life on the rural California farm their family has inherited. Lonely Sophie, having written to a catalogue in desperation, begins receiving letters from someone named Agnes at Redwood Farm Supply about the farm chickens. The chickens are an unusual bunch, from Henrietta, an angry-looking Bantam White Leghorn who lays mysterious glass eggs and can make objects levitate, to Chameleon, a timid Barred Plymouth Rock hen who has powers of invisibility, to Buffy, a Buff Orpington whose progeny have the cockatrice skill of turning living creatures to stone by looking at them. Sophie also writes letters to her beloved deceased abuelita, and to her late Great-Uncle Jim about learning how to handle the chickens, making new friends, and keeping the hens safe from Ms. Griegson, a neighboring farmer who covets the chickens for their unusual powers. Sophie, her parents, and their neighbor are skillfully drawn and refreshingly diverse (Sophie’s mom is Latina; Gregory, Sophie’s mail-carrier buddy, is black; and Jane, the feed-store clerk, has a girlfriend). The letter-writing device effectively conveys the story, and the mystery of who is answering Sophie’s letters at Redwood Farm Supply is especially engaging. Kath’s monochromatic illustrations, stylistically somewhere between Quentin Blake and Jennifer Plecas, add humor and energy and help tell the story in between letters. This will appeal to both the kids who like realistic family stories and those who prefer the fantastical, and chicken-lovers will find this informative as well as satisfying. JH - Copyright 2015 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.