Aarón loves all his family’s chickens, but Rhode Island Red Margaret is his special favorite.
It’s no wonder, as Margaret has an especially fetching expression in Hansen’s line-and-watercolor illustrations, which take advantage of natural chicken physiognomy to endow Margaret and the rest of the flock with demure “smiles.” They make it clear that it’s not just the eggs that spur Aarón’s devotion. In a simple, personable narration, Aarón tells readers that his family got their flock from Mother Hen Chicken Rescue after the city council passed an ordinance allowing residents to keep the birds. He explains how they house, care for, and feed the chickens, gather eggs, and use the composted “poop” in their garden. When Aarón remarks that the chickens’ dust baths look like fun, his mother soberly explains that factory-farm chickens live in decidedly worse conditions. With that one exception, De Lisle keeps the tone light, ending the story with a birthday cake for little brother Eduardo made with Margaret’s eggs. Backmatter explains more about chicken keeping, offers tips on chicken care, and for readers prepared to keep them responsibly, suggests resources for chicken adoption. Margaret and the rest of the flock are depicted on the endpapers, but it’s a shame that they are not specifically identified by breed.
That Aarón and his family are Latino is just icing on the cake in this engaging introduction to keeping backyard chickens. (Picture book. 5-8)