An almost-13-year-old expands her poultry-farming operation in this sequel to Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer (2015).
Sophie Brown has just received two new unusual chickens to add to her flock, but that’s not all—she’s about to receive fertile eggs, so she is putting together an incubator and learning all she can about how to nurture chicken eggs and get them ready to hatch. Resourceful and thoughtful, Sophie documents her entire process—emailing with Hortensia, a chicken vendor; taking detailed notes about her unusual (they casually teleport objects or become invisible) hens; and writing letters to deceased but beloved adults Agnes, Great-Uncle Jim, and Abuelita. School is about to start, and Sophie’s excited that her cousin Lupe will be coming to stay as she attends college nearby, but nothing can compare to the hatching of new chicks. Sophie’s lower socio-economic status and identity as a brown-skinned, biracial Xicana figure into the plot heavily without reeking of tokenism. (Sophie’s mom is Mexican-American; her dad is white.) Readers unfamiliar with the first book should feel caught up after a few dozen pages of this epistolary novel. Jones has married the trappings of traditional magical realism—small towns, quirky people, almost-normal animals—with the angst of being the out-of-place kid in middle school, and it’s no gimmick: just good worldbuilding and storytelling. Kath’s humorous spot art is a delightful complement.
Charming, thoughtful, and clever. (Magical realism. 9-13)