What does it take to raise chickens in the city? A woman and her cat find out in this true story by debut author and photographer Burrill.
“I’d heard that it’s cheap, easy and fun to raise egg-laying chickens in the city,” Burrill begins, her words accompanied by a clip-art chick and a photograph of her home’s garden shed. As she recounts the tale on text-dense pages, always with her own photographs or clip art present, she reveals it is indeed inexpensive to begin this project, but that the time and effort required to care for chickens and collect their eggs are far more than she bargained for. First, she purchased three small chicks, whom she kept indoors in a heated cage. It was there that her black cat, Tinker, fell in love. Rather than want to eat or torment the chicks, Tinker mothered them, draping herself on top of their cage to watch their antics. Burrill invited some local children to name the chicks (Daisy, Maizey, and Omelette). As the three grew, their chirping became louder, and Tinker fretted about her brood. Her worries only became worse after they moved outside to the backyard. After the chickens matured, Burrill was excited to see the first egg, but she was not prepared for Maizey escaping over her backyard fence to discover a good laying spot. Maizey led Burrill on a wild hunt, laying her eggs in odd places, and soon the other chickens followed suit. The chickens’ mischief overshadowed Tinker’s role in raising them, but eventually the cat helped Burrill locate an escaped hen. This child-friendly series opener offers an appealing tale. But some of the references and puns the author makes may fly over the heads of young readers (about the notion of buying grocery-store eggs, she explains, “I’d feel like a traitor, an ‘Eggs Benedict Arnold’ ”). And the human cast lacks diversity. Nevertheless, children should easily imagine Burrill having to rake out seven hidden eggs from beneath her shed and her attentive cat protectively watching over the adorable chicks. The clip art adds little to the text, but the author’s photographs are excellent, giving readers a clear sense of what it’s like to be a chicken-raising hobbyist.
A simply written animal tale with grade school–accessible vocabulary that’s sure to entertain children despite the mixed style and quality of the illustrations.