Inspired by chicken-owning families in Brooklyn, Samuels (Fred’s Beds) offers a genial domestic cartooned comedy with an underlying lesson about appreciating living creatures. “You don’t need to live in the country to raise chickens!” Mommy declares brightly after spotting a lamppost ad by someone wanting to unload five hens. And just like that, Winston and Sophie’s city-dwelling family builds a backyard coop and becomes the proud owners of Dawn (a Cochin), Desirée (Cuckoo Marans), Divina (Rhode Island Red), Delilah (Cream Legbar), and Daphne (an exotically coiffed Polish). The hens generate a lot of poop, but the fresh eggs the family so eagerly anticipates? Fuhgeddaboudit. Samuels gets excellent comic mileage by drawing her hens as unblinkingly unflappable, even in the face of the children’s gambits to get them to lay eggs. But the family’s frustration melts as they grow to understand the chickens as not just egg generators, but also as vivid individuals: “Desirée was the best flier. Delilah was the most curious. Divina was bossy. Dawn was shy. And Daphne bumped into things.” The smidgen of dramatic tension near the end is almost beside the point—this one is really about two species finding common ground. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
A genial domestic cartooned comedy with an underlying lesson about appreciating living creatures. . .Samuels gets excellent comic mileage by drawing her hens as unblinkingly unflappable, even in the face of the children’s gambits to get them to lay eggs. But the family’s frustration melts as they grow to understand the chickens as not just egg generators, but also as vivid individuals.” Publishers Weekly
“A very enjoyable read-aloud for would-be urban farmers and kids just needing a good laugh.” Kirkus Reviews
“This bright and funny read-aloud will enliven any storytime. Chickens rule the roost.” School Library Journal
“This charming, humorous mini-adventure in urban farming should get readers thinking out of the box (or crate) about what they can do in their own backyards. . .The boldly colored illustrations capture city life with realistic details that also extend to the family’s chickens, each with an identifiably colored egg. This may inspire readers to raise chickens, or investigate other local sustainability options.” Booklist
PreS-Gr 2–Many picture books that focus on pet care are about cats, dogs, and even gerbils, but few are devoted to chickens. These birds are going to be raised in a city environment, rather than the country, adding a few delightfully surprising and humorous elements. The differences between raising chickens and a more conventional pet (like a dog) are mentioned; for instance, chickens can lay eggs and don't need to be walked. The children in the story discover, however, it takes longer than they thought for the eggs to be laid. By the time the eggs do appear, the family has bonded in a special way with the five different breeds of chicken and come to appreciate each hen's distinctive personality. Samuel's full-spread illustrations are chock-full of interesting details, such as comments made by members of a class who are willing to trade two hamsters and a gerbil that can do handstands for a chicken during show-and-tell. VERDICT This bright and funny read-aloud will enliven any storytime. Chickens rule the roost.—Etta Anton, Yeshiva of Central Queens, NY
Raising chickens has become a popular hobby in urban areas where some people have small backyards.
Winston and Sophie, younger brother and older sister, live in such a community. When their mother spots a sign offering five fowl of different breeds, they adopt chickens delightfully named Dawn, Divina, Daphne, Delilah, and Desirée. Sophie announces the news at show-and-tell, and Winston does the "Chicken Dance" on a crowded city bus, yelling "THE CHICKENS ARE COMING TOMORROW!" The siblings are ready to collect eggs, but there's nary an egg in sight. The kids put on a play, provide music and stories, anything to "get them in the mood," but nothing happens. They begin to interact with the chickens, learning their habits, a process depicted in eight circular vignettes on a double-page spread. When the children finally discover eggs, Sophie explains that different breeds lay eggs of varied colors and sizes. The brightly colored, amusingly detailed, naïve illustrations depict a white family, but there are diverse people at school, on the bus, on the street, and in their building. From "Sophie's Chicken Chart" on the last page, readers can learn that Daphne, with her pouf of white feathers (Winston thinks it's a hat) is a Polish breed chicken, actually from the Netherlands, and other facts. An author's note provides resources on raising chickens.
A very enjoyable read-aloud for would-be urban farmers and kids just needing a good laugh. (Picture book. 5-7)