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Book Club Kits: Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer

Alamance County Public Libraries offer Book Club Kits for check out to area book clubs. Each kit contains 10 copies of a book and a reading guide.

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Book Summary

Twelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse....

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more, Unusual Chickens is a quirky, clucky classic in the making.

Discussion Questions

  1. Sophie writes to her dead uncle and grandmother. If you were to write to a dead relative, who would you choose and what would you say or ask them?
  2. In writing to the catalog people, she tells them her mom says, it’s a bad idea to tell people what you think while you’re angry. Why do you think Sophie’s mom thinks this? Do you agree? Explain.
  3. How would you persuade your parents to let you keep a chicken. What are the pros and cons? What would you do if you found a chicken? Do they go to the pound? Sophie thinks her parents will freak out about her finding a chicken. What animal would make your parents freak out?
  4. Sophie tells her abuelita she’s been moping around and she misses the beach where she used to live. If you moved far away from where you live now would you be excited or sad? Why? What is the thing you would miss the most? What is the one thing you would look forward to in moving?
  5. Sophie’s mom is writing an article on 10 things that make a new house a home. What would you put on the list?
  6. Sophie gets scared because she doesn’t know who closed and bolted the chicken house door. The night sounds scare her. She still checked on the chicken at night. What does this tell you about Sophie? Would you check on a chicken at night in the dark with scary sounds? Explain. Sophie is so scared, the hair on the back of her neck stands up. Tell about a time when you were that scared.
  7. Ms. Griegson’s chicken can turn into a hawk. What advantage would this be for the chicken? If your chicken could turn into another animal what would you choose and why? What would you not choose and why?
  8. Sophie says there’s no shame in hard work and that all the work has to be done by somebody. Do you agree with this statement? Why do some people look down on other people because of the job they do? How can we change people’s attitudes?
  9. Sophie wants to go to the 4-H meeting but gets nervous when she has to meet new people. She compares talking to a group to her throat strangling on the inside and not being able to breathe. Have you ever had a reaction similar to this? What things make you feel like this and how did you get over your fear?
  10. Sophie reads to her chickens. Do you think this helps the chickens in any way? What unusual things do you do with your pets? Do you agree with Sophie that someone should keep them so they don’t become extinct? Should there be laws governing the keeping of these animals?
  11. Sophie made migas for her parents then had a dance party. Do you have any traditions in your family that involve special foods? What are they? Why were they started and why are they important to your family?
  12. When Henrietta and Bully are glaring at the hawk-chicken, Sophie thinks it’s a good thing Henrietta knows ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. What does this mean? Give examples of someone with great power and how it could be used in a bad way. 

About the author

About the Author: Kelly Jones is a curious person, interested in chickens, magic, farm life, spies, sewing, the odd everyday bits of history, how to make sauerkraut, how to walk goats, superheroes and what makes them so super, recipes to make with a lot of eggs, anything with ghosts (particularly friendly ghosts), how to draw chickens that actually look like chickens, and any story she’s never heard before.