Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Sonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

I feel like there was a little initial buzz about this book and then it seemed to slip from everyone's minds. This is too bad, because it's a wonderful book on several levels.

Sonya, a sturdy girl with rich, dark skin and exuberant curls, is given three speckled chicks by her father. Under her care, they grow into plump, healthy chickens and begin to provide eggs. But one night, there is a disturbance in the coop and when Sonya runs out to check...one chicken is gone. Her father comforts her by telling a story about the hungry fox who wants to feed her family. Sonya makes a grave for her lost chicken, but thinks also of the fox kits in the woods, no longer hungry. She and her family repair the coop and one day one of the eggs begins to hatch!

The illustrations are a rich blend of watercolor, collage and colored pencil. The landscape feels almost like a fantasy forest with towering flowers and tall trees. One of my favorite spreads is a night scene with the trees, buildings, and skyline dimly shown in the dark landscape adn a glowing moon and stars overhead.

It's not a perfect book; in places the text is too lengthy to make a good read-aloud and it occasionally strays into didacticism. However, the rich, lovely illustrations and the simple descriptions of caring for a beloved pet and accepting that sometimes sad things happen are heartfelt and touching.

Verdict: This is a good title to enjoy together with a special listener or to read in an abridged format with a younger group.

ISBN: 9781770497894; Published 2015 by Tundra; Borrowed from another library in my consortium

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