About the Holiday
National Poultry Day, held annually between St. Patrick’s Day and the first day of spring, celebrates the importance of poultry to the diets of people around the world. From breakfast to special holidays, poultry is a valuable source of protein and nutrition that’s also delicious!
What’s Up with This Chicken?
Written by Jane Sutton | Illustrated by Peter J. Welling
When Sylvia went out to the barn to collect the chickens’ eggs, something was up with Trudy. She squawked and screeched when Sylvia tried to reach under her, but Sylvia took it in stride and with humor: “‘Don’t get so egg-cited!’” she said. “‘I’ll get your egg tomorrow.’” But the next day Sylvia was met with the same reaction. Trudy wasn’t acting like the other chickens in Grandma’s backyard; if fact, she wasn’t even acting like Trudy! “‘What’s up with this chicken?’” Sylvia wondered.
While she and Grandma enjoyed “omelets with eggs from Sue, Clara, Doris, and Olga,” Sylvia talked about “stubborn Trudy.” Grandma didn’t know what was wrong either. The next morning Trudy was even more obstinate. Not only did she make a racket, she tried to peck Sylvia, and she puffed “herself up to twice her size.” Sylvia also noticed “that Trudy left her roost just once a day to eat, drink, and poop. She was getting skinny.”
Sylvia decided that Trudy must be hungry. She tried to lure her off her nest by offering chicken feed, but while all the other hens “wolfed it down like chocolate,” Trudy remained firmly on her roost. Sylvia tried everything she could think of to move Trudy, but nothing worked. That night she and Grandma consulted The Big Book About Chickens. Here they discovered that “‘Trudy is broody!’” Grandma read on: “‘Broody hens stay on their eggs so they will hatch into chicks.’” But Sylvia and Grandma know that Trudy’s eggs are not the kind that hatch.
Sylvia realized that Trudy just wanted to be a mother, and she wished there were some way to help her. She thought and thought and finally came up with an idea. She ran to Grandma who agreed that Sylvia’s plan was “an egg-cellent idea.” A few days later a box arrived holding four eggs that would hatch. With thick rubber gloves, a dose of determination, and two tries, Grandma was able to lift Trudy off her nest. Sylvia made a quick switch of the eggs, and “Broody Trudy settled down on the new eggs.”
Trudy grew thinner every day but she stayed on her roost, rolling the eggs to keep them uniformly warm and even blanketing them with her own feathers. One day Sylvia heard peeping! She and Grandma rushed out to the coop and were even in time to watch the fourth little chick peck its way out of its shell. They named the new “little yellow fluff balls Sophie, Danielle, Mildred, and Judy.”
Trudy was a proud and protective mother, shielding her chicks with her wings like a “feathery beach umbrella” and teaching them how to find food and water. Trudy went back to her regular routine and began gaining weight. As the chicks grew they got their own nests in Grandma’s coop. But one day Judy squawked and screeched. This time “Sylvia laughed so hard that she almost dropped her egg basket. ‘Broody Judy,’ she said, ‘I know what’s up with you!’”
An Author’s Note about the real-life “Broody Trudy” that inspired the story follows the text.
With a deft and delightful understanding of the puns and humor that set kids to giggling, Jane Sutton has written a fun—and informative—story for animal lovers and anyone who loves a good, natural mystery. Through the well-paced plot and action-packed description, readers learn about a particular behavioral aspect of some chickens and the clever and sensitive way that Sylvia solves the problem. The close relationship between Sylvia and her grandmother adds charm and depth to the story, and their dialogue is spontaneous and playful.
Peter J. Welling’s bright, homey illustrations are the perfect accompaniment to the story. Animated Trudy shoos Sylvia away while the other chickens take dust baths, scratch for bugs, and look just as perplexed as Sylvia and Grandma. Humorous touches abound in Grandma’s choice of home décor and Sylvia’s printed T-shirts as well as in the facial expressions of the human and feathered characters. Trudy’s chicks are adorable, and readers will cheer to see Trudy fulfill her heart’s desire.
What’s Up with This Chicken is a wonderful read-aloud for younger kids’ story times and a fun romp that will keep older, independent readers guessing and wondering how it all comes out right up to the end. The likeable characters—both human and chicken—make this a book kids will like to hear again and again!
Ages 3 – 8
Pelican Publishing, 2015 | ISBN 978-1455620852
Discover more about Jane Sutton and her books on her website!
To read an interview with Jane, click here!
To learn more about Peter J. Welling, his books for kids and adults as well as the original lunch bags he made for his children, visit his website!
National Poultry Day Activity
Egg Carton Chickens and a Basket Full of Games
With twelve little chickens you can come up with lots of games to play! This fun craft and game activity is eggs-actly what you need to start hatching some real fun!
- Cardboard egg carton
- White craft paint
- Markers: red, yellow, black for the face; any colors you’d like for wings and eggs
- Paint brush
- Construction or craft paper in white and a color of your choice
- Cut the notched flap off the egg carton and set aside
- Cut the top off the egg carton
- Cut apart all the egg cups and trim slightly so they sit flat
- Paint the egg cups with the white paint, let dry
- Add the face, comb and wings to the chicken with the markers. Make six chickens with one color wings and six chickens with another color wings.
- From the egg carton flap cut thirteen small egg-shaped playing pieces
- With the markers, decorate twelve of the eggs in pairs—each egg in the pair with the same design
- Color one egg yellow and add a beak, eyes, and wings to make it a chick
Games to Play
Tic-Tac-Toe (2 players)
- On a 8 ½” x 11” piece of paper draw a regular tic-tac-toe board or make it fancy – like the picket fence-inspired board in the picture
- To make the fence-inspired board on a colored background, cut 2 9-inch-long x 3/4-inch wide strips of white paper, cutting a pointed tip at one or both ends. Cut 2 white 8-inch x 3/4-inch strips of paper with a pointed tip at one or both ends. Glue the strips to the background.
- Each player chooses a set of chickens with the same colored wings
- Play the game as you usually do
Find the Matching Eggs (2 or more players)
- Have one player hide one egg under each chicken
- Shuffle the eggs around and form them into three lines of 4 chickens each
- Another player lifts one chicken at a time to find matching eggs. If the eggs don’t match, put both chickens back and start again
Where’s the Chick?
- Use as many chickens and eggs as you want (fewer for younger children, more for older)
- One player hides the chick under one of the chickens and eggs under the others.
- Another player has three chances to find the chick
You can also design your own games for your adorable chickens to play! With more chickens you can even make a checkers set or replicate another of your favorite board games!
Picture Book Review