Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken? by Kelly Jones

I enjoyed Kelly Jones' first book about Sophie and her unusual chickens, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, very much (my review), and when I treated myself to a batch of new middle grade fantasy from the library last week, the second book, Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken? (November 2018) was one I was very excited about! It is just as fun and warm and engrossing as the first book.

Sophie is now more than a beginner keeper of unusual chickens.  She's used to caring for a small flock of poultry who are special in a magical kind of way, with a whole slew of paranormal talents.  But she's never hatched eggs before.  Part of being a keeper of unusual chickens is ensuring the survival of the vaious breeds, so hatching is part of the job, and eggs are on their way to her.  So she must hunt around the chicken farm she inherited from Agnes, a great breeder of magical chickens, for all the incubation supplies she needs.

The eggs arrive, are incubated, and hatch, and Sophie learns a lot (as does the reader); fortunately she has chicken-savvy friends to rely on for help and advice....and in the meantime, Sophie works to get Agnes' place back into order, which means getting help from her whole rural community.  And also in the meantime, summer comes to an end and school starts; Sophie worries that she'll be the only brown kid in a sea of white (she is not; there is a Mexican girl who is also new...)  Sophie's cousin Lupe has come to stay while she attends the local college, and that's a change too, though a good one, and Lupe is also a big help.

And typing that pervious paragraph, it occurs to me that one theme of the book is letting other people help you, and realizing what you need to learn to do to make you able to carry out your passion in life!  And it that sounds like the book is preachy, please don't think it is!  It's told in letters from Sophie to Agnes, her deceased grandmother, and a fellow unusual chicken breeder, and Sophie's voice is fresh and sharp, and her letters are full of descriptive details, making her chickens, her people, and her place all come to vivid life!

The fact that the story is told in these sharp bursts of correspondence help keep the reader's interest going--there's not a lot of Excitement or Danger here, and no adversary to overcome, just the tension of egg hatching and coping with the unexpected chicks that result.  So it won't be to everyone's taste.

But I found it a lot of fun.  I would happily keep reading more about magical chickens, thought there are hints that the whole magical livestock/farming world might contain more than just poultry...

Give this book to kids who want to be zookeepers when they grow up; it is all about caring appropriately for your animal charges!  Or give it to kids who just want a magical pet.   Or kids who just want to spend some time out in the country in good company eating apple-blackberry crisp and watching chickens do impossible things.....


  1. I haven't read either book yet, but they are on my TBR list. One day soon... Thanks for the very thorough review.

  2. The first book was one of my FAVORITES a couple years back -- I bought it for the boys, and they snort-laughed which is always a good sign. The fact that *I* laughed heartily before giving it to them was an even better sign. Kelly Jones does funny really well.


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