“Sonya’s Chickens” by Phoebe Wahl is a book that manages to cover loss and grief in a beautiful and short story.
The book begins with Sonya receiving three chickens from her parents. Sonya and her family live on a small farm, and Sonya has just begun to take care of three small chicks. The story follows as she manages the responsibilities of caring for live animals, and the story turns when a fox manages to steal a chicken in the dead of night. Wahl doesn’t minimize the big grief of Sonya’s loss, but instead writes through it. Sonya’s father explains why foxes behave the way they do and while Sonya is still upset, she seems to accept the state of things.
A couple of the pages in this book approach a wordiness that some young readers may not enjoy. The picture book is a delicate formula, and so is the story. Still, largely, my toddler already loves this book and I do too.
I just love Phoebe Wahl. We only own one of her books, but I love her illustrating and storytelling alike. Her illustrations are the kinds of illustrations I want to live in. The settings are cozy and cluttered and warm and familiar, and in that way, the characters are all of those things too.
I’m putting this on the Gift This page, but with some caveats. I think this book could make a great gift. It would be especially useful to have on hand for children experiencing the loss of a pet, for example. But it is also an intense book for the youngest readers, so it may be worth broaching with the parents before gifting a book that deals with the good old circle of life.
Grown Up Stars; 4.5/5
Kid Stars: 4/5