Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
By Kelly Jones, illustrated by Katie Kath
Expected publication May 12, 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
Sophie is struggling to adjust to her new life on the farm - her mother is busy, her dad is out of work, and she misses Los Angeles. But when she discovers some unusual chickens hanging around, things start to get a bit more interesting - particularly as it seems someone intends to steal these chickens. What's so unusual about them? And how can Sophie protect them?
First, sorry about the lack of posts here over the past week or so - I was on vacation (you know, doing real life things) and didn't have things scheduled to run the whole time I was gone. Also, my reading has been bogged down for the last couple of weeks in my book club book (which I finally finished), so I didn't have much to review. Lucky for you all, I always read more than one book at a time, so I did finish up a couple of things recently. Anyway, on to the review.
I downloaded this e-galley because it sounded like it could be cute. Birds are definitely not my thing, but this looked like it might be a fun read. I really like epistolary novels, so that aspect definitely appealed to me, and I appreciated the person of color heroine.
This book was mostly just what I expected. It's a very fun and quick read, with very charming characters. Perhaps what I liked most was that this book addresses issues of race and poverty in a very straightforward and realistic way. I think it works exceptionally well here, and I'm pleased to see an author unafraid to tackle some of these issues in a book for middle-grade readers. This is Sophie's story, and I found her to be a very endearing heroine. Her sincere attempts at uncovering the mystery of the chickens while also trying to help out her parents felt truthful to me and it would be very difficult not to root for her. I think the epistolary style works well for this story - you really get a great sense of Sophie's voice through her letters. The only thing I didn't really love was the little twist at the end with the farm supply woman with whom Sophie has been corresponding. Everything else, though, was quite enjoyable. This will be a bit of a hard sell in my library, where books like Regarding the Fountain have been withdrawn due to low circulation, but I'll try to encourage readers to give this one a shot.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.