Rave Reviews Log: Realistic Fiction

October 23, 2006

Chicken Boy

By Frances O'Roark Dowell
Rating: 4 1/2 stars
Reviewed by Noelle

Ignore the terrible title and cover! This is a good book! Tobin is a 7th grader with what seems like nothing going for him. His mother died of cancer five years ago, his house is a pigsty, his father and siblings are rarely home, and there is never anything to eat in the house. His siblings have a bad reputation in school and around town, so although Tobin is a good kid, he underperforms in school and tries to just not call attention to himself. He wishes he could live with his Granny, but since she and his father are always at odds, he feels like he is in the middle. That all changes when he impulsively stands up for an English teacher who has been kind and not condescending to him. He starts a fight with the offending boy, and another boy jumps in to help Tobin out. Enter Henry Otis, who persists in making Tobin his friend and introduces Tobin to the world of raising chickens. Henry thinks chickens have souls, and sets out pulling Tobin into proving he is right. Tobin is able to start opening up to a friend--and some chickens. He starts making more friends at school and doing better in classes. But just when things seem to be getting better, Granny calls Social Services on his father and Tobin gets put into a foster home. You would think things would just get worse, but actually, this when his family finally has to take hard look at themselves and their situation. This is a great, interesting (when is the last time you wondered if a chicken had a soul?), and moving story that will reward whomsoever reads it.


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