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Monday, August 24, 2015

Sonya's Chickens, written and illustrated by Phoebe Wahl. Tundra Books, Random House. 2015. $19.99 ages 5 and up

"Sonya took her job of tending to the chickens very seriously, and they grew quickly into gawky pullets. As her mama and papa went about their duties of the farm, Sonya was proud to do her part. Everywhere Sonya went, her little birds were at her heels, peeping loudly. Every morning, Sonya would rise to the crow of the old rooster ... "

We meet the three little chicks on the same day Sonya does. She assures the three that she will be their 'mama'. She cares for them inside until they are ready to go outside into their chicken house in the farmyard. Sonya works hard, as does everyone on the farm. In her care, the chickens are healthy and good layers.

One night Sonya hears a ruckus in the farmyard. She quietly leaves the house to investigate the source of all the noise. She makes an alarming discovery - one of her chickens is missing. In the midst of her tears, her father's strong arms enfold  her and she cries out her sadness.

Sonya wants an explanation. Her papa patiently explains that anger at the fox who stole her chicken may be misplaced. A fox is only trying to care for hiss family. It may seem unfair. He tells her a story:

"He works hard every day to find food to
bring home to his babies. Most of the time
he can find mice and moles, but sometimes
 the fox needs a big meal for his family, so he
does everything he can to find one. He didn't
know or care that it was our chicken he took.
He just saw a chance to feed his family."

Papa is so attentive to Sonya's sadness while helping her to understand loss. They have a short service of remembrance for the lost chicken, allowing Sonya to move on with the two chickens she has left. They repair the chicken house, and get the back to the business of collecting eggs for the family's meals.

Phoebe Wall uses watercolor, collage, and colored pencil to give her story warmth and appeal. She uses peaceful scenes of both families - human and fox - to help her young audience see that both provide love and care. In her farmyard scenes she allows a close look at the work that is required to raise chickens.

I like this story of love and loss, and its connections within the natural world.

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