City Chickens by Christine Hepperman

Lynn:  Who would have thought, gentle readers, that such a thing as a chicken rescue shelter would be necessary?  Apparently many city dwellers are now permitted to raise chickens and many have no idea how much work that actually is.  City Chickens (Houghton 2012) tells the story of Chicken Run Rescue in Minneapolis and the caring efforts of Mary Britton Clouse and her husband Bert to help chickens mistreated by clueless humans.   My husband who grew up on a farm and I whose grandmother’s farm was was home to every kind of bird from guinea fowl to huge white geese started out being amused by this concept, but Hepperman’s book quickly convinced me that what they were doing was truly needed.  (Just as an aside, I want to say that I fell in love with Banty chickens as a child and if the zoning laws permitted it here, I’d gleefully add some to our menagerie so I do regard chickens as more than a meal.)  Hepperman’s clear text and her enchanting photographs would convince even Colonel Sanders that chickens have great personalities and truly need rescuing.  From the arthritic McNamara, the rooster that figured out how to sleep on his back to Miss Manor, a hen with frost-bitten feet, the Clouses have taken in chickens seized from illegal cock fights, 105 chicks abandoned by the side of the interstate and chickens found hiding by apartments.  They find homes for as many as possible and many enjoy the Clouse’s designed-for-chickens garden.  An Author’s Note, instructions on how to care well for city chickens, a bibliography and a note to educators about the practice of hatching chicks in classrooms round out the book.  Slim but informative and appealing, this is an ideal nonfiction book to use in the classroom with the youngest of our students.

Common Core Connection

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.2.6 Identify the main purpose of a text, including what the author wants to answer, explain, or describe.

Read pages 8-11 together.  Ask the students to explain what the author wants to describe.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.2.1 Write opinion pieces in which they introduce the topic or book they are writing about, state an opinion, supply reasons that support the opinion, use linking words (e.g., because, and, also) to connect opinion and reasons, and provide a concluding statement or section.

Read pages 42-45 together.  Ask the students to write a short paragraph that explains what the chapter is about and answer the question, “Do you think people  should have chickens in the city?”

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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