Review Blog

Feb 06 2020

The chicken's curse by Frances Watts

cover image

Allen and Unwin, 2020. ISBN: 9781760525569. 272pp.
(Age: Mid - Upper primary) In the Australian year 7 HASS curriculum, students investigate the Mediterranean world of the ancient past and the contributions of the ancient world to our modern social, political and economic systems. Students reflect on government and democracy, laws, citizens and citizenship, develop empathy and understanding of significance and perspectives.
This content could be dry and formal or it could be introduced through a class serial read of The chicken's curse. This book is hilarious fun. The amount and quality of political, social, economic and historical facts and events that are embedded cannot be underestimated. What better way is there to learn than through following a hilarious narrative! It's sub-liminal learning.
Our heroes are Livia and Felix. The same age as upper primary readers, they are courageous, full of initiative and very likeable. Representing different classes within Roman society, Felix is escaping from the military and Livia is escaping slavery. Together, with the questionable help of a crazy sacred chicken, a talking camel, a magic carpet and others, they travel pretty well all the way around the Mediterranean in a bid to see Caesar and to rescue Livia's brother from being fed to the lions.
At the beginning of the book there is a map that students can refer to in order to follow the action. Without effort, through this process, they cannot help but come to understand the geography of the Mediterranean. By following the antics of our heroes they couldn't help but become very interested and engaged with what the curriculum is requiring them to investigate.
It is great when teachers, parents and librarians have books that they can direct students to which help to engage students with curriculum content. The chicken's cursehappens to fit this bill.
The hilarious efforts of General Fabius Maximus Porcius and others are reminiscent of the Asterix comics so beloved of generations of readers. There are so many springboards for further investigations triggered by this book.
Recommended for mid-upper primary, The chicken's curse makes one smile - indeed laugh out loud . . . and learn.
Wendy Jeffrey

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