Nora's Chicks

( 3 )

Overview

From Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan comes a reassuring story about new beginnings and making friends.

Nora and her family have just arrived from Russia and are making a new home on the American frontier. The prairie is very different from the forested hills Nora is used to. Most of all, it?s lonely. Papa has the cows he sings to as he milks them. Baby brother Milo has a dog to follow him wherever he goes. But Nora has no one and nothing to call her own until Papa brings ...

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Overview

From Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan comes a reassuring story about new beginnings and making friends.

Nora and her family have just arrived from Russia and are making a new home on the American frontier. The prairie is very different from the forested hills Nora is used to. Most of all, it’s lonely. Papa has the cows he sings to as he milks them. Baby brother Milo has a dog to follow him wherever he goes. But Nora has no one and nothing to call her own until Papa brings home a dozen chicks and two geese. Nora names each one, and they follow her everywhere — even to church! But what will happen when one of her beloved chicks goes missing?

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Newbery Medalist MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall) revisits the prairie in this tender story of a family that emigrates from Russia to the American frontier. Though Nora’s parents are aware of their daughter’s sense of isolation on her new turf, they can provide little solace. A stray dog becomes devoted to Nora’s baby brother, and her father has his horses and cows for company. “I need something all my own,” laments Nora; her father inadvertently provides that very thing when he brings home 10 chicks and two geese “for eating.” Nora decides they are too beautiful to eat, and he agrees, conceding, “They are yours.” With her usual taut and penetrating style, MacLachlan reveals the reawakening of Nora’s spirit as she bonds with her chicks, which also bring her closer to a neighboring girl. Brightened by the festive patterns of Nora’s Old World fashions, Brown’s (Kisses on the Wind) smudgy, windswept watercolors capture the starkness and beauty of the prairie and the simplicity of the life there. This is a lovely, affecting package. Ages 3–5. Agent: Ruben Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Nora comes to the American prairie from Russia with her mother, father, and baby brother Milo, but little else. She cries when she sees that there are no hills or trees. Her mother tries to cheer things up but Nora is not happy. She needs a friend. Neighbors come to visit, but Nora is shy and so is the neighbor girl, Susannah. One day a stray dog arrives but he becomes Milo's friend. Nora needs something all her own. Her dad lets her keep some chicks instead of raising them to eat. She names them and they follow her everywhere, but she is still lonely. Finally, when Susannah brings Nora a lost chick, she has a friend at last. We are set up for a happy ending by the smile on Nora's face on the jacket/cover as the chicks follow her. Brown's pencil drawings and watercolors combine to depict the landscape and farm naturalistically as they create the visual action. Nora's flower-patterned dress and brown boots remind us of the life she left in Russia to be a pioneer in America. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—After emigrating from Russia to the American plains, Nora misses the familiar landscape of her home and is lonely. When she and her younger brother adopt a stray dog, the dog prefers Milo. Similarly, the cows and horses really belong to her father. When the family acquires some chicks and geese, Nora adopts them as her own, and her father promises not to make dinner of them. The chicks follow her everywhere. After one chick is lost and returned by a girl from the neighboring farm, Nora makes a friend. Through bare-bones prose, MacLachlan visits the same territory of prairie loneliness portrayed in her work for older readers, but with less lyricism. While realistic in its portrayal of the impact of a move, the narrative's slow pacing and limited drama will appeal mainly to patient readers. The sweet expressions and flyaway hair in Brown's watercolors add charm, but the muted palette and basic landscapes surrounding the figures do little to attract readers to MacLachlan's similarly muted narrative. Despite its overall mildness, this longer picture book fills a need for early elementary historical fiction.—Jayne Damron, Farmington Community Library, Farmington Hills, MI
Kirkus Reviews
This low-key slice of life, apparently adapted from the author's grandmother's experiences as an immigrant child, offers a glimpse of another time and reminds young listeners that friends, whether feathered or human, are among life's sweetest gifts. Nora, her baby brother, Milo, and her parents have come to the United States from Russia. The prairie landscape is bleak and unfamiliar, Milo is still too small to speak, and Nora is lonely. A neighbor, not near but closer than anyone else, has potential as a friend, but like Nora, is too shy to connect. Nora welcomes a stray dog who joins their little family, but Willie bonds with Milo, so she is still alone. Then her father brings home some poultry, intending the birds for their table, and Nora finds "something all [her] own" at last. That her feathered friends lead her to a new companion will please young listeners, who'll appreciate the happy ending (which is really a new beginning). MacLachlan's relatively lengthy, leisurely, straightforward text is realistic without bogging down in details as the action moves along. Brown's watercolor illustrations are the perfect complement, bringing characters to life, mirroring the plot, portraying the rural setting clearly (if a bit ideally) and evoking a simpler time. Like her novels, MacLachlan's latest picture book is a heartwarming--but never saccharine--tale with an old-fashioned feel. (Picture book. 5-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780763647537
  • Publisher: Candlewick Press
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 335,283
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD490L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 10.36 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the Newbery Medal–winning author of Sarah, Plain and Tall. She has published many, many books, including Lala Salama, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon; Journey; Skylark; and Cassie Binegar. Patricia MacLachlan lives in western Massachusetts.

Kathryn Brown is the illustrator of numerous books for children, including My Little Grandmother Often Forgets by Reeve Lindbergh and Kisses on the Wind by Lisa Moser. Kathryn Brown lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 7, 2013

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    Nora was not pleased with her new home in America. Her new home

    Nora was not pleased with her new home in America. Her new home on the prairie did not have as many trees or hills as Russia had in fact she saw only one tree and not even one tree. On top of that she needed a friend. One girl visited her new home but they both were too shy to connect as friends. 

    One day Nora's dad brought home some baby chicks and two geese to add to their families food chain. This upset Nora and her father decided she could have the chicks. They would be hers to care for and do with as she saw fit. This pleased Nora so much she promised her father she would take good care her chicks. The chicks followed Nora every where she went making Nora and her chicks well known.

    The author wrote the story in a simple way that will make it easy for early readers to read. The story is well written emphasizing how hard it must have been for a young immigrant to adjust to their new life in America.

    Children moving to a new school or neighborhood would find comfort in reading this story. The illustrations reminded me of some first readers I enjoyed reading as a child in the early 1950s. I can still see the illustrations in my mind.

    I highly recommend this book. 

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Candlewick Press for review. I was in no way compensated for this review. This review is my honest opinion.

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  • Posted June 15, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Review: It is difficult to move from one's home to a new one, an

    Review: It is difficult to move from one's home to a new one, and it is especially so for a child. But when the child leaves the familiar home and the familiar countryside and familiar friends, it is really, really hard. Nora's family immigrates to America in the prairie area where there are no hills and no trees. Nora is saddened and lonely with all this unsettling change.

    And then as Papa begins to stock the farm, he gets some chicks. Soon the chicks are following Nora around and now they are her friends. New beginnings. New surroundings. New friends, even if they are the feathery type. But then one goes missing. This is a sweet, tenderly presented story of immigrants, change, loss, loneliness, friendship, and adjustment.
    The illustrations by Kathryn Brown are stunningly beautiful. They are soft, defined, whimsical, and replete with unwritten details of the story. The combination of Patricia MacLachlan's gentle story and Brown's artistry makes the craft of children's picture books enduring and enchanting.

    It is easy to recommend this book to parents, librarians (school, home, public), and children of all ages.

    DISCLOSURE: I was provided a complimentary review copy by Candlewick Press on behalf of the author and illustrator to facilitate my honest review. Opinions expessed are solely my own. No compensation was given for this review.

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  • Posted February 26, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Patricia MacLachlan, author of one of my favorite childhood nove

    Patricia MacLachlan, author of one of my favorite childhood novels, Sarah, Plain and Tall, is still in the business of creating heartwarming children's books. Nora's Chicks, illustrated by Kathryn Brown, is a sweet story that captures the heart of change, family, and finding friendship.

    Nora and her family have moved to America from Russia. While her family settles in their new home and new surroundings, Nora struggles to accept the change. She misses the view of her dear Russia and feels saddened that she also doesn't have any friends. Her father brings two geese and some chicks as food, but Nora has other ideas for the beautiful birds. They follow her around, even to church, and Nora takes care of them as pets. After a little mishap with one of Nora's chicks going missing, Nora receives more than a returned chick, but a budding friendship with neighbor Susannah.

    Kathryn Brown's illustrations add a rich softness to the story that glued my eyes to the pages. Even though each page has a few sentences, my eyes wanted to stay on each page to make sure I could fully capture the brilliance of the images. Though it's been years since I've read a Patricia MacLachlan story, I found that Nora's Chicks made me feel as though I was sitting right back in elementary school. Readers will sympathize in Nora's search for happiness, but will ultimately smile at the portrayal of her heartening story.
    *Book provided via publisher in exchange for an honest review*

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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