Review Blog

May 06 2020

This chicken life by Fiona Scott-Norman

cover image

Pan Macmillan, 2019. ISBN: 9781760786083.
(Age: All) Highly recommended. I love this book! But perhaps I should admit to a bias, as I keep chickens, and in our neighbourhood our house is known 'Chicken Corner'. So I can readily relate to the joys of chicken ownership that are revealed in this book. This is not a 'how to' book, rather a fascinating collection of stories of chicken lovers and their chooks, from celebrities like gardening guru Costa, to comedians and performers, a member of parliament, eccentric chicken collectors, animal liberationists and school children. You may pick up some tips along the way with short chapters on roosters, the pecking order, chicken breeds, foxes, and even a history of chickens in Australia. But the main focus are the stories of people who have discovered the joy of having chickens as pets.
It is a wonderful collection of stories and photographs. Jareth rescues broiler hens and keeps them in his one-bedroom flat. Miranda makes chicken wheelchairs for incapacitated chooks. Jennifer does a stand-up comedy act with her Silkie. Nash breeds rare birds. Mandy crochets chicken bonnets. The stories come from around Australia, including two from Alice Springs: chickens in a renal dialysis centre and chickens in a correctional centre. There are also chickens in schools. So many have discovered the rewards of caring for chickens - a path to communication and connection for children with autism, children in therapy programs, and elderly in aged care. And just a heap of fun for anyone.
The photography by Ilana Rose is wonderful, capturing characters and scenes, which is why I think even young children will enjoy the pictures of exotic chickens and unusual poses. School children will enjoy reading about other kids with chooks - Summer started an autism therapy program 'Chickens to Love', and Max has created a range of chicken accessories - cheanies, chickinis and choollery. One school has a Chicken Club.
Highlight for me was learning about the chicken sitter, close to my area! Somebody actually looks after chickens while their owners go on holiday. So while Jareth may like taking his chooks for outings to the beach, others of us may to prefer to go away knowing our pets are in safe hands at home.
The final pages have a glossary of interesting words to do with chickens and eggs, including 'brains' because it's a fallacy that chickens are stupid. They have personality and charisma.
Helen Eddy

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