Posts tagged ‘Farm’

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Unusual Chickens.jpgTitle: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Author: Kelly Jones
Illustrator: Katie Kath
ISBN: 9780385755528
Pages: 216 pages
Publisher/Date: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, c2015.

“Dear People Who Sell Special Chickens,

Look, maybe Mom was right about not writing while I was angry. I’m really sorry I said that stuff. Probably you’ve been busy too. But now I really need you to write back, even if you don’t send me a catalog. Because a chicken showed up yesterday, and I think it must be one of yours, because it is really definitely not an ordinary chicken. I’m pretty sure my parents are going to freak out, and I really need to figure out what to do. What are you supposed to do with a found chicken—is it like a found dog? Do chickens go to the pound? But it’s got to be yours. It’s really unusual, for sure. Can you please come get it quickly? Sincerely, Sophie […]

“Dear Great-Uncle Jim,

You know that chicken I told you about? It can use the Force.” (33-36)

Sophie moves with her mom and dad to her Great-Uncle Jim’s farm, which her family inherited upon his death. Through letters she writes, but can’t send, to her dead grandmother and great-uncle, and letters to the Redwood Farm Supply, which she does send, Sophie details her exploits as she discovers first one, then two, then even more chickens on her great-uncle’s farm. These chickens are anything but ordinary, and Sophie is not the only person who notices the unusual attributes. There may be a chicken thief on the loose, and Sophie is going to do everything she can to protect her posse of poultry.

This is a book that needs to be read aloud to classes everywhere, perfect for fans of Charlotte’s Web or other farm based fantasies. Sophie is a biracial only child, which is addressed but never obsessed over. She is self-reliant, strong-willed and independent, writing at one point “Don’t you dare send someone to take my chickens.” Knowing when to ask for help, she consults the library and other experts in researching the care and feeding of chickens. Sophie occasionally has a sarcastic way of approaching things, like telling her grandmother “I’m really sorry you’re dead” that make her an endearing and relatable protagonist. The most realistic aspect of the narration style used is there is very little directly quoted dialogue, which is rarely found in actual letters and lends a more realistic tone to the story. The illustrations are quirky and charming at the same time, adding to the plot’s humor without turning into slapstick. Give this to fans of humorous stories who are uninterested in the potty humor of Underpants. Get it, read it, share it, and recommend this unusual book. One of my favorites and one of the most memorable of the whole year.


2 the Point Tuesday Duck Sock Hop

Each month for my job, I write a maximum 150 word review of a new book that came into the library during the month. I’ll be expanding that idea to the blog in a new feature I’m calling To the Point Tuesdays. If you want to play along, just post a link in the comments and I’ll add them to the post.

Duck Sock HopTitle: Duck Sock Hop
Author: Jane Kohuth
Illustrator: Jane Porter
ISBN: 978080373712
Pages: unpaged
Publisher/Date: Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2012.
Publication Date: May 10, 2012

Warm up, wiggle, stretch your beak.
Duck Sock Hop comes once a week.
The mood is high, the sun is low,
the music starts, get ready, go!

Jane Kohuth’s rollicking rhymes provide tumbling tongue twisters and Jane Porter’s colorful creations encourage enjoyment. Similar to Seuss’s Fox in Socks, ducks frolic in stylish socks from spots and stripes to “jeweled deluxe.” But like most dances, as it progresses the ducks and socks get worn out, until they tumble into each other and the ensuing pile-up encourages big laughs from the audience. But never fear, they’ll regroup and host another one next week!

Pair this with Boot and Shoe by Marla Frazee (review coming soon) for a fresh, frenzied and fun look at footwear or pair with Punk Farm by Jarrett J. Krosoczka for a rollicking, rock and roll story time. My outreach kindergarteners loved them both!

The Helpful Puppy

Helpful PuppyTitle: The Helpful Puppy
Author: Kim Zarins
Illustrator: Emily Arnold McCully
ISBN: 9780823423187
Pages: Unpaged
Publisher/Date: Holiday House, c2012.

All the animals helped out at the farm—
all except the puppy.
“I want to help out too!”

With those few words, Kim Zarins begins a rollicking journey through the farm as puppy explores all the possible ways the other animals help. But he can’t lay eggs like the hens, he can’t pull the cart like the ox, and he can’t give milk like the cow. Even the sheepdog claims that he’ll be able to help someday, but not now. In text that has some rhyming meter but isn’t uniform in its scheme or rhythm, it provides interesting listening. At the very least, it keeps both readers and listeners on their toes, but it might have flowed better if she’d been more consistent. For instance:

“Then the puppy visited the cow.
The farmer squirted the milk into a pail.
“Can I make milk?” he asked.
The cow replied, “Of course not. You’re a male.”

Next the puppy saw some sheep and cheered.
Yippee! I can give fur, like you give wool!”
“Na-ah-ah-ah,” the sheep baaed.
“You’d look silly sheared.”

The real stand-out is the ending, where we learn that the puppy’s job is to give love, which he does unconditionally. Emily Arnold McCully’s watercolors are a thing of beauty and you can’t help but fall in love with this spirited little pup. The book itself makes me think of a more stylized remake of the Pokey Little Puppy, with the bright colors of the farm distinguishing feathers on the hens, whiskers on the cat, and tiny flies buzzing around the cow’s tail, although the boy inexplicably changes shirts for dinner. I love how the two page wordless spread shows a boy and his dog and the uncomplicated joy they provide for each other. Every little child who has a dog will agree that this book captures that spirit extremely well in the pictures, so long as they can look past the slightly awkward text and focus on the very obvious message.

Wee Little Chick and Five Little Chicks

I had placed some items on hold for my posts in honor of May being National Egg Month, and May 14th being Dance Like a Chicken Day. They didn’t come in on time, so I did not include them in my posting. Well, they finally arrived, and rather than just sending them on their merry way, I decided to include them in the blog this week. Today, I’m presenting some little chickens! Both of these books I’ve used multiple times for story time, and they seem to work well.

Title: Wee Little Chick
Author: Lauren Thompson
Illustrator: John Butler
ISBN: 9781416934684
Pages: Picture Book
Publisher/Date: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2008.

With both of these books, it’s the pictures that sell the story, especially with the little ones. In both stories, you have very round, feathered chicks. John Butler’s engaging illustrations in this entry in Lauren Thompson’s series of “Wee Little…” books provide a sense of dimension, with the other farm animals almost bursting forth from the page as they sink down to wee little chick’s level. It’s also a great book for size comparison, as you see just how much bigger the cow, pig, and goose are compared to the wee little chick. The story is a “size doesn’t matter” tale as wee little chick succeeds in standing the tallest, cheeping the loudest, running the fastest, and finding the biggest seed. Finally, Mama Hen (who is noticeably white as opposed to the typical brown or red hen) comes to wee little chick’s rescue (although the chick is really holding her own and doesn’t need rescuing in the least bit) and tells the other animals that “She’s my wee little chick and she’s just big enough!”

Title: Five Little Chicks
Author: Nancy Tafuri
Illustrator: Nancy Tafuri
ISBN: 9780689873423
Pages: Picture Book
Publisher/Date: Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2006.

With Five Little Chicks, you cannot, CAN NOT, go wrong with Nancy Tafuri. Her illustrations are always spot on; big, bright, and instantly recognizable. She has quite a few farm books, and they all are equally well done. Nancy Tafuri is a staple for my story times. Don’t miss the little detail of the pieces of corn in the chicks’ mouths. In this book, she illustrates the common finger play of five little chicks asking and exploring what they can eat, which Mother Hen finally answers by showing them how to scratch and peck in the corn patch. When doing this as a story time, you can have parents act it out with you by counting along with their fingers. On an unrelated note, Tafuri is both author and illustrator, so she’s a great one to rely on when parents come in looking for books with LARGE font to assist with learning how to read.

Chicken Big and Big Chickens

May is apparently National Egg Month, and May 14th is Dance Like a Chicken Day. So all this week, this “chick” is featuring chickens! Yesterday I counted chickens, today I’m presenting some big chickens!

Title: Chicken Big
Author/Illustrator: Keith Graves
ISBN: 9780811872379
Pages: Picture Book
Publisher/Date: Chronicle Books, c2010.
Publication Date: August 18, 2010

With Chicken Big, readers are treated to an adaptation of the original Chicken Little story, right down to the allusion the title provides. The cover is classic, with just the feet and oversized body of the chicken appearing. Don’t skip the back cover or the cover pages, where the three normal size chickens and the lone rooster whine about being on the back cover, make a beeline for the front, and debate what the book should be called. Initially I wasn’t thrilled with the illustrations, but they grew on me and by the end I was sold on them. While the three normal sized chickens (identified as the small, smaller and smallest chicken) are not very expressive, it’s the big chicken who readers are drawn to as his trepidation about the situation is shown through his eyes and face. The three chickens have no idea what to make of him, and in a combination of Seven Blind Mice meets Chicken Little, they continually assume he’s something he’s not with increasing absurdity (a SWEATER?!). At last they are able accept the fact that he is indeed a chicken after he saves their eggs from the fox because surely nothing else could be “so smart, so kind, so warm, and so brave.” While parents might echo the big chicken’s comment “This is getting ridiculous,” children will love it, just like they love it when I ask them if they’re looking for an elephant or a book.

Title: Big Chickens
Author: Leslie Helakoski
Illustrator: Henry Cole
ISBN: 0525475753
Pages: Picture Book
Publisher/Date: Dutton Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group, c2006.
Publication Date: February 2006

This next book seems to be meant for older kindergartener and early elementary students. The vocabulary is certainly a deterrent for the younger kindergartener and toddlers. In Big Chickens, four chickens race away from their coop after viewing a fox, and they must face several other fears including cows, ditches, and crossing a running stream in a boat before summoning the courage to return home. The illustrations by Henry Cole are really what sell the story, with each chicken’s expressive eyes, mouth, and body language making it blatantly obvious that they would rather run for the hills than face their fears. The writing, while bubbly, is a little vague as to how the chickens get into one scrape after another, as they repeatedly jostle each other into trouble. But it’s the language and the delectable use of words that has me coming back, as they provide a rhyme and rhythm that readers might have to practice in order to avoid tripping over their tongue. Originally, the chickens “pwocked, flocked and rocked. They knocked into themselves.” The rhyming continues with tutted, putted, flutted and butted, sputtered, shuddered, muttered and fluttered, and flurried, hurried, worried, and scurried. Alliteration also abounds as the chicks picked, pecked and pocked and by the end they are four “dirty, dusty, drippy, dazed, daring chickens”. Language arts classes will rejoice, but probably not the best for story time. Fans might be interested in the two sequels, Big Chickens Fly the Coop and Big Chickens Go to Town.

Tough Chicks

May is apparently National Egg Month, and May 14th is Dance Like a Chicken Day. So all this week, this “chick” is featuring chickens! First up are Tough Chicks by Cece Meng.

Title: Tough Chicks
Author: Cece Meng
Illustrator: Melissa Suber
ISBN: 9780618824151
Pages: 32 pages (Picture Book)
Publisher: Clarion Books, an imprint of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, c2009.
Publication Date: Feb. 16, 2009

“From the moment Mama Hen’s eggs burst open, she knew she was dealing with some pretty tough chicks.” (4)

Mama Hen has three little chicks, named Penny, Polly, and Molly. Although their names are reminiscent of Peter Rabbit’s sisters (Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cottontail), these chicks are nothing like Beatrix Potter’s docile bunnies. They flop in the mud, they swing from cow tails, and they look under the hood of the tractor. The other animals and even the farmer provide the refrain of telling Mama Hen “Make them be good!”, to which Mama Hen consistently responds “They are good!” It’s after the tractor begins to roll down the hill, straight for the hen-house, that the chicks are able to prove their skills and that they can be good and tough chicks.

You know from the beginning that Penny, Polly, and Molly are not your ordinary chicks by the blue feathers that stick out of their heads, chin, and tail. Mama Hen isn’t your ordinary chicken either, with blue tipped wings. The expressive eyes, faces, and bodies of the animals also make it easy for non-readers to see the emotion and annoyance that the rest of the barn yard feels. The three chicks are fast (shown by their roadrunner-esque feet), adventurous, intelligent, and artistic (shown by their nest-building and scratching for grain lessons, which go horribly wrong).

While readers might wonder why the pigs were in charge of teaching the chicks how to build nests, the rest of the story flows nicely. I especially loved the exclamations of the animals when the runaway tractor approaches.

“BAAAAAAAD IDEA!” bleated the sheep.
MOOOOOOOVE!” bellowed the cow.
“WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DOOOOOOO?” crowed the rooster.

I can just hear myself reading this passage to a group of preschoolers. The rooster’s question even has the right number of syllables to fit the rhythm of his more traditional “Cock-a-doodle-doo”. It serves as a great reminder that while some people might say there are girl things and boy things, in this realm a trio of chicks can do whatever they set their minds to… even stopping a runaway tractor.

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