The big chicken mystery by Meredith Costain

cover image

Ill. by Danielle McDonald. Olivia's Secret Scribbles. Scholastic, 2019. ISBN 9781743817636.
(Age: 5-7) Recommended. Themes: Chickens. Theft. Diaries. Meredith Costain's fifth Olivia's Secret Scribbles story focuses on the rehoming of the Year 2 chickens. The Year 1 students are ready to begin their chicken rearing and Olivia's class have the opportunity to take Pearlie, Roxy and their friends home. First Olivia writes a persuasive list of reasons to help Mum and Dad agree. The whole class wants chickens to come to their homes, so the teacher announces a competition for the best designed coop. Olivia's diary is filled with her detailed plans, the Deluxe house includes a swimming pool, tiled roof with a garden on top.
When Mr Platt their teachers announces the winner, Olivia is so excited, Pearlie, Roxie and Sweetie are coming home. On Trouble Tuesday, the hen house is empty and the girls begin a frantic search to find the escapees. Olivia's diary records the trials of having the chickens and the lack of eggs laid. After a visit to The Secret Garden community centre for Nanna Kate's birthday, Olivia, her sister Matilda and their mother work out a special plan for their chickens.
Meredith Costain's easy-to-read book is just right for readers from ages 5-7. Olivia's Secret Scribbles series is an excellent introduction to chapter books for young girls. There is a brightness and bubbliness to Olivia's point of view, that is presented with yellow coloured bold text and design.
Danielle McDonald's cartoon illustrations capture Olivia's emotions adding to the fun of the story; love the chickens roosting in Mr Pappas' ginormous undies.
The big chicken mystery looks at caring for chickens and being responsible. Costain uses many different writing and design styles to engage her young audience.
Rhyllis Bignell