Reviews for Once upon a Flock : Life with My Soulful Chickens

Kirkus Reviews 2013 January #2
The charmingly quirky story of a woman and the flock of spirited chickens that stole her heart. When her teenage daughter and friends abandoned it, blogger, illustrator and DIY mom Scheuer knew that her yard, which had once been "a mecca of colorful activities and adventures," needed a makeover. So she transformed it into a home for chickens, which arrived by mail. Scheuer threw herself into the project and built the coop where her hens would roost. In love with her birds from the day they hatched, she documented their daily lives with drawings and photographs, which she includes on almost every page of the book. Her chickens--Hatsy, Lucy and Lil' White--weren't simply lawn ornaments and egg-producers; they were beings with colorfully distinctive personalities. Hatsy was the egg-laying wonder, Lucy the affectionate friend and Lil' White the sometimes mean-spirited beauty. With insight and humor, Scheuer describes the relationships among her animals. She recounts how her terrier Marky "drooled" over them at first but then became their dedicated guardian. The birds themselves had their own dramas. Lucy developed Marek's disease, which crippled her feet. True to the "wild roots" of all chickens, Lil' White suddenly began attacking her. Lucy survived and eventually became the flock "mother," nurturing an egg that contained the flock's one rooster. When Hatsy weakened and died, the birds closed ranks and mourned because "[they] knew." Scheuer adopted another bird, a scrawny "fixer-upper" named Pigeon, who became both the flock leader and Lucy's new best friend. Scheuer shows that though feathers and fur may separate humans from animals, all creatures are capable of attachment, cruelty, joy and sadness, regardless of the skin they wear. Pleasant, sensitive storytelling. Copyright Kirkus 2013 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 December #4

Though readers may not associate chickens with empathy, this delightful book will likely change such opinions. After Scheuer, a children's book illustrator who writes the blog Scratch and Peck, decided to introduce chicks to her rural Massachusetts backyard, the rewards of raising them to adulthood (with her husband and teenage daughter) far outpaced her minimal expectations, offering "hilarity and drama and life." Her keen eye for subtle interactions enabled her to clearly delineate the distinct characters of Hatsy, Little White, Lucy, and Jenny, compelling the reader to invest in each bird, and in their ups and downs almost as intensely as Scheuer did. With frequent examples of selflessness--a chicken slowing its pace to match an ill comrade, or staying outside in the terrifying nighttime darkness to keep another company--the author pre-empts any criticism that she's just anthropomorphized her beloved animals. This must-have for animal lovers also features Scheuer's drawings, which along with photographs, enhance the endearing text. Illus. Agent: Laurie Abkemeier, DeFiore and Company. (Mar.)

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