Sonya’s Chickens + Chicken Coop Pretend Play

Sonya's Chickens by Phoebe Wahl

Learning through story is a powerful way to engage kids, especially when it comes to learning about the interconnectedness of the natural world in which we live. Life and death and are not easy topics to communicate, but Phoebe Wahl’s picture book, Sonya’s Chickens (Public Library | Local Bookstore) does a masterful job using storytelling to share with young readers the pleasure of  responsibility, joy in watching them thrive, and at times the heartbreak of raising animals.

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Sonya’s father returns home one day surprising her with three little chicks.  “I’ll be your mama,” she tells them as she springs into taking ernest responsibility and pride of caring for her chicks day in and day out as they grew into adult chickens. But one cold night, Sonya is awoken to squawking and noises from outside and runs out to the coop only to find a whirl of feathers and only two hens where once there were three. After carrying the upset and heartbroken Sonya inside, Sonya’s father sits her on his lap and tells her the likely backstory behind why a predator, most likely a fox, took her dear chicken away. Shining an entirely different light on the account, her father’s story shares how we’re all doing our best to keep the children or animals in our charge safe. Just as in the the story of the natural rhythm of life, Sonya’s Chickens ends with a new beginning.

As a long time admirer of Phoebe Wahl’s illustrations,  Wahl’s delicate storytelling is equally as charming as her famous cozy and bright illustrations. An important story of the natural ebbs and flows of life, Sonya’s Chickens is a story of love and responsibility and reminds readers of the important role we all play in the world we share.



Sonya's Chickens Activity

My girls love chickens and ducks. They love to read stories about them, we visit the Tractor Supply when the little chickies and ducklings arrive in the spring,  they thumb through hatchery catalogs, and every day on our walk to school, we say hello to our neighbor’s chickens. Until that day comes when we are able to have chickens of our very own, I’ve set up a pretend play chicken coop in our home inspired by this idea from Storytiming.

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I cleared a couple of bookshelves in our living room for the coop. My 5yo had this snuggly white hen for awhile and I recently found the brown hen for $5 at the Antique Mall, which was my 2yo’s birthday present along with a set of wooden eggs. Using egg cartons I had saved for future crafts, as well as a couple paper bags that I scrunched into nests, and a basket, in just a few minutes the kids had their very own pretend play chicken coop.

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Since I’ve been reading Sonya’s Chickens frequently with my oldest, it’s reawakened her daydreams of having her own chickens. Hopefully, our pretend coop will keep her interest alive until the time comes for her to mother her own chicks just like Sonya.


Books About Chickens

If you enjoyed reading Sonya’s Chickens, be sure to check out:

A Chicken Followed Me Home!: Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl by Robin Page – A great introduction to chickens from their life cycle to how to care for them

Farm Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of Country Life by Julia Rothman -This book includes a section devoted to common breeds, coop styles, and anatomy of a chicken. It’s also a fun read to explore the in’s and out’s of farm life.


*Review copy of this book was provided by Tundra Books


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