Reviewed June 30, 2006.
Philomel Books, New York, 2006. 95 pages.
Available at Sembach Library
This book is
in an unusual
format, so I hope it finds its audience. It’s
the size of a picture book, but it’s definitely a
chapter book, and
not an easy-to-read. There are beautiful
full-page pictures, but only one for each of the nine chapters, with
highlight of that chapter’s painting at the beginning of the chapter.
I’d call this
fairy tale, with a young hen (Hanne) as the indomitable hero on a quest.
owner of a small farm, has a dog and a flock of speckled hens. “She loved her speckled hens with all her
One day, Mem
that her back taxes must be paid, or she will lose her farm. She is distressed and sad, because she
doesn’t have the money and doesn’t know what will become of her dear
lay the most beautiful eggs in the islands.
decide they must do
something to help Mem Pockets. Only one
hen, Old Pegotty, the oldest and wisest hen in the flock, knows of
they can do. Her
great-great-great-great-grandmother Hembry Myn told her the secret that
handful of Scaldy hens know.
ago, the Dragons
possessed great magic and gave the hens one Great Mystery—the Secret of
Golden Eggs. However, only a hen hatched
during the darkest phase of the moon can be chosen to lay the golden
she must prove her worthiness and pass three trials.
Then she can lay three golden eggs, which
would be enough to save the farm.
The only hen
the New Moon is Hanne, the youngest hen, who hasn’t even laid one egg
life yet. So Hanne is taught an ancient
rhyme giving her directions and sets off to help Mem Pockets save her
This story is
adventurous, and completely heart-warming. I
was absolutely captivated. A
wonderful story about someone small accomplishing big things.
of another book by Olivier Dunrea:
Gossie and Gertie