Sunday, September 9, 2018

Review - Gwen the Rescue Hen

Gwen the Rescue Hen
by Leslie Crawford
illustrated by Sonja Stangl
Date: 2018
Publisher: Stone Pier Press
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 40
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Gwen has spent her whole life in a big egg-laying hen house, so she knows very little about what chickens can do (besides lay eggs, of course). A fateful tornado turns her world upside-down and sideways, landing her in a strange new place that's nothing like the hen house.

Using her wits and chicken superpowers, Gwen dodges danger at every turn until she finds safety and friendship with a boy named Mateo. Together they discover how extraordinary an ordinary chicken really is.

The book includes a bonus section called "More About Chickens," where curious readers can learn that chickens have extraordinary eyesight, a complex language of 24 sounds, and are descended from dinosaurs, among other fun facts.

Gwen the Rescue Hen is the second children's book in Stone Pier Press's Farm Animal Rescue Series, perfect for ages 4 to 7. The first book, Sprig the Rescue Pig, was released in the Spring of 2018.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is a really cute book. While it does begin in a kind of depressing tone, with Hen (as she's called at the beginning of the story) living in a small cage on a factory farm, things soon start looking up for this plucky chicken. After a tornado destroys her barn and lands her cage on the seemingly untouched Ma's Chick'n Lick'n Diner (you do have to suspend disbelief a little bit), she and a few of her friends are suddenly free. She meets a boy named Mateo and goes home with him, where she learns to be a chicken and do what chickens naturally do.

When I started reading, the illustrations were all in black and white and looked like sketches; I was kind of afraid someone had forgotten to put the final illustrations in the book! But things soon brightened up; the drab pictures in the beginning are merely a reflection of Gwen's drab life. The drawings are simple, but very cute. The illustrator even managed to make all the chickens look different, so you could tell where Gwen was when she was with the others.

There are a couple of pages at the end with facts about chickens, and that may have been my favourite part. I knew they were intelligent, but chickens are really fascinating birds.

Overall, this is a really strong children's book. Despite being about a hen who escapes a factory farm, it doesn't really hit the reader over the head with any sort of animal rights message; instead, it's a gentle story about kindness and friendship and... well, just letting chickens be chickens.

Thank you to NetGalley and Stone Pier Press for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 4/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 3/5
Illustrations: 4/5
Originality: 4/5

Enjoyment: 4/5

Overall: 3.83 out of 5

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