Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (Unusual Chickens #1)

by Kelly Jones (Author) Katie Kath (Illustrator)

Reading Level: 4th – 5th Grade

Fans of Katherine Applegate and Erin Entrada Kelly will love this quirky story of a determined girl, and some extraordinary chickens.

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 Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.


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School Library Journal

Starred Review

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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Publisher's Weekly

Book Rating

General impression ?

 
Strongly Dislike - No one should purchase this book
 
Dislike - Not a fan, but ambivalent because book may have limited appeal even though quality is lacking.
 
Neutral - Book isn’t a favorite but will appeal to readers of a particular genre.
 
Like - Book is very good, readers in this genre and beyond will enjoy it.
 
Love - A “must-have” with high standards in plot development, theme, character development, writing style, illustrations, etc.

Professional reviews ?

Kirkus Reviews



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School Library Journal

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 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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Publishers Weekly

Jones debuts with a comically poignant story composed of the letters that 12-year-old Sophie Brown writes to a pair of deceased relatives: her much-missed Abuelita and her great-uncle Jim, whose California farm Sophie has just moved to with her parents. Also in the mix are Sophie's letters to the owner of Redwood Farm Supply, whose advice Sophie seeks as she discovers some of her great-uncle's far-from-normal chickens on the property (one appears to have telekinetic powers, for starters). Kath's wiry and playful b&w illustrations carry hints of George Booth's work and add substantial humor to the story (dyspeptic chicken Henrietta is especially memorable). Amid Sophie's entertaining attempts to secure the chickens (and keep them safe from a dodgy neighbor), Jones sensitively captures the preteen's feelings of isolation, her growing awareness of racial issues that affect her ("Mom... says you have to be twice as honest and neighborly when everyone assumes you're an undocumented immigrant"), and her family's simmering economic stresses. Better yet, there's still plenty of room for Sophie's story (and her flock) to grow. Ages 8-12. Author's agent: Mandy Hubbard, D4EO Literary Agency. Illustrator's agency: Shannon Associates. (May)

Copyright 2015 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
Kelly Jones
KELLY JONES has worked as a librarian and a bookseller, and now turns her talents to fiction. Her first book, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, was an Indies Introduce Pick, an ALA Notable Book, an SLJ Best Book, a Kirkus Reviews Best Book. You can find her at her website: curiosityjones.net, or on Twitter: @curiosityjones.

KATIE KATH earned an MFA from the Savannah College of Art and Design and works as a freelance illustrator. You can learn more about her work at ktkath.com.

Classification
Fiction
ISBN-13
9780385755559
Lexile Measure
-
Guided Reading Level
0
Publication date
March 20, 2016
Series
Unusual Chickens
Age Range
8 - 12 years
Georgia Children's Book Award
Finalist None

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