Review | Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken?

Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken? (Unusual Chickens #2) by Kelly Jones


We started raising chickens when our daughter was just a baby, so she has grown up with a yard of feathered friends.  She enjoys their eggs (and the song they sing when the lay an egg), chicken jokes, and collecting the feathers when they fall out.

Last year we came across the children’s middle grade book Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer about 12 year old Sophie Brown who has just moved with her parents from L.A. to a farm they inherit from a great uncle Jim.  Sophie finds a small flock of hens on the farm and learns rather quickly that these are no ordinary chickens… they have powers!  Sophie is both determined and resourceful as she learns about chickens and how to care for them (and handle their unusual abilities).

When I found the sequel on NetGalley recently, I had to request an ARC to find out what happens next in Sophie’s adventure!

In Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken?, Sophie is settling in at Blackbird Farm and adding new magical chickens to her flock.  She has inherited Redwood Farm from Agnes, an exceptional poultry farmer who raised and sold unusual chickens for many years.

To continue Agnes’s work with unusual chickens, Sophie is sent a batch of eggs to hatch all by herself in an incubator and she’s excited to learn what their super powers will be!  Since the new flock cannot be added to her existing flock (because of the pecking order), Sophie needs to prepare Redwood Farm for its first new flock of chickens in ages!

With her friends and her cousin Lupe (who has recently moved in to attend a nearby college) they clean up Redwood Farm with the help of their community.

It isn’t long after the eggs have hatched that Sophie finds one chicken has an alarming power that could be dangerous!  While navigating her new school, new and exisiting friendships, Sophie also has to learn how to care for baby chicks, keep up with her chicken chores and Redwood Farm, and face her first inspection with the Unusual Poultry Committee!

This was another fun and quirky novel in this children’s middle grade series told in letters/e-mails, lists, and quizzes.  I enjoy the chicken facts and the information included (brief but accurate descriptions on molting, incubating/hatching, etc.) and my daughter loves the funny powers the chickens have.  Young readers can also learn a great deal from Sophie, who is enthusiastic, determined, and caring.  I look forward to seeing what happens next at Blackbird and Redwood Farms!

Thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers and NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review!  Are You Ready to Hatch an Unusual Chicken? is scheduled for release on November 6, 2018.



Review | The House in Poplar Wood

The House in Poplar Wood by K.E. Ormsbee


In the town of Boone Ridge lies a secluded house in Poplar Wood.  Twins Lee and Felix Vickery live there in Poplar House with their parents.  Except, there’s a hitch.  Their dad, Vince is the apprentice to Death and their mom Judith is the apprentice to Memory.
Death and Memory despise each other due to a long on-going feud and no one quite remembers what it’s about.  Passion decided to be devious and brought Vince and Judith together 13 years ago, causing Death and Memory to come to the Agreement.

All those capital letters aren’t a mistake: the three shades Death, Memory, and Passion are almost human in this tale and the Agreement with-a-capital-A is a binding contract that Death and Memory created and any discussion of it is filled with dread.

The Agreement has several rules:  Felix lives with his dad and Death in the East wing of Poplar House, Lee lives with his mom and Memory in the West wing. Lee can never see his dad, Felix can never see his mom, and their parents can never see each other again. The boys can see one another, but can only meet outside the house.

It’s a strange life for the boys, living with Death and Memory.
Felix gathers herbs for his dad, a holistic physician, and collects the candles (every living person in Boone Ridge has a flickering candle that only goes out when they die) for Death.  Death will offer him a contract to become a lifelong apprentice when he turns 16 and he’ll take over his father’s work.

Lee takes the memories his mother, a psychiatrist, collects from her patients and seals them in canning jars, shelving them as memories to either remember or forget, noted with a colorful ribbon for Memory.  At 16, he’ll be offered a contract to become a life apprentice to Memory and take over his mother’s work.

As the apprentice to Death, Felix can only leave Poplar Wood once a year when Death takes a vacation on Halloween.  He warily visits town with Lee, pretending to be his cousin since the town doesn’t know he even exists.

Gretchen Whipple, the mayor’s daughter, is from a family of summoners who are meant to keep balance between the 3 shades so they don’t overstep their bounds interfering in the lives of the townspeople. She knows that the recent death of Essie Hasting (the apprentice to Passion) wasn’t an accident; her father is covering for Death.  As a summoner she also knows that her classmate Lee Vickery lives with Death.

The Whipple and Vickery families are sworn enemies (one family protects the people, while the other serves Death) but Gretchen knows she has to work with Felix and Lee to figure out what really happened to Essie and maybe even help break the Agreement holding the boys and their parents hostage to the feuding shades.

The House in Poplar Wood is an exciting and original middle grade novel with kids learning to trust their instincts, question the world around them, and finding the courage to stand up for themselves and their loved ones.

I wasn’t prepared to love this story as much as I do!  I can definitely recommend this book to both middle grade and adult readers.  Thanks to the Chronicle Books and NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.  The House in Poplar Wood is scheduled for release on August 28, 2018.