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Chicken Boy Paperback – January 9, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 - 14 years
  • Grade Level: 5 - 9
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (January 9, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416934820
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416934820
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #816,781 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4-7 -In Raleigh, NC, seventh-grader Tobin McCauley has let life pass him by since his mother died five years earlier, but when a new student at school befriends him, he begins to look at the world with fresh eyes. Tobin has been the odd kid out for so long that when Henry Otis engages him in conversation and invites him over, the boy wonders what to make of it all. While Tobin's father is working or out on weekends, he and his older siblings scrounge for cereal to eat while watching television and long for the mother they vaguely remember. "When you learn about chickens, you will learn about life" is good advice from Henry and the basis for this story. Tobin learns just where he fits in as a school project to raise chickens develops into more than just a way to get extra credit. He describes his emotions, saying, "I'd been feeling kind of funny in general, like a snake shedding its skin and finding out it was a whole different animal underneath." Tobin's life will resonate with many young people who are struggling to see just where they fit in. His grandmother and her sky blue Toyota truck add humorous relief to such weighty subjects as child custody and the death of a parent. This is a refreshingly well-written encounter with richly developed and well-defined characters whom readers won't soon forget.-Cheryl Ashton, Amherst Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 4-7. Since Tobin McCauley's mom died of cancer, his family has fallen apart. Nobody talks about grief at home, a dirty "old brick shoe box" off a highway near Raleigh, North Carolina, where Tobin lives with his dad and his older, delinquent siblings. Granny is sometimes kind to Tobin, but she's always feuding with Dad. Then in seventh grade, Tobin meets Henry, who helps him raise chickens and supports him so he can stand up for himself. The friend as savior character is too good to be true, as are the therapy sessions where Tobin's family finally talks. What will grab readers are Tobin's wry, sad, immediate voice as he discovers how to nurture chickens, and Dowell's depiction of adults, from Tobin's kind decent teacher to his flawed granny and dad, both of whom let Tobin down. There is no glib resolution, here. But the strong narration and the child's struggle with forgiveness make for poignant, aching drama. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Frances O'Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award, Where I'd Like to Be, the bestselling The Secret Language of Girls, and its sequel The Kind of Friends We Used to Be, Chicken Boy, Shooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Medal, and most recently Falling In. She lives with her husband and two sons in Durham, North Carolina.

Customer Reviews

Well written and engaging for targeted audience.
Cgrams
Nevertheless I enjoyed this book and young adult readers and any who enjoy a good story should enjoy it too.
Sir Furboy
Her characters seek to improve and expand their hearts and minds.
Virginia Holman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Virginia Holman on February 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Frances Dowell is one of the finest young people's authors

out there today. From the masterful and gripping Dovey Coe

to the canny Secret Language of Girls, to the thoughtful

and gripping world of Chicken Boy, Dowell shows again and

again that she understands kids and their concerns. Her books

have both strong storytelling and a moral code. She makes characters that provoke lively discussion between parents

and kids and teachers. There's so much gloss out there today,

books that seem more concerned with showing girls how to be pretty and boys how to be cool. Dowell's books show kids and grownups how to be loving, responsible, kind human beings.

And she does it with grace and style and wonderful stories.

Her characters seek to improve and expand their hearts and

minds.

Dowell's books are essential.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sir Furboy on June 26, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Tobin's mother has died of cancer. His father and grandmother are both lost in their grief, and feuding. The family is being neglected and has been falling apart over a long period.

Tobin is the troubled seventh grader (that is year 8 in the UK, so presumably he is 12, going on 13) who sees more of his grandmother than his own father, and is suffering from neglect. Failing in school, he has become something of a rebel. That is, until the day he sticks up for a teacher, lands himself in a fight and finds a friend. A friend who is passionate about chickens.

This is a heartwarming story about a boy finding salvation through friendship. It was an extremely satisfying read, and young adults should definitely enjoy it.

I give it four stars, not five, mostly because it is also a little unconvincing in a places. In particular, Tobin is really far too nice for the rebel he is supposed to be.

That is not to say that he has to be not nice to make this a good story. Just that the internal conflict was not wholly convincing.

Nevertheless I enjoyed this book and young adult readers and any who enjoy a good story should enjoy it too.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Ege on November 22, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Chicken Boy tells the story of young Tobin McCauley who comes from a bad family and who is just sure he will end up the same way. People do not expect much from him and he does not expect much from himself. His world changes when he enters the seventh grade and begins to form his own identity rather than accepting the one forced on him by his family's reputation. He is surprised when he makes a friend and together they learn how to raise chickens so as to discover if the birds have souls. Tobin begins to recognize that his family does not have to be the way that they are and he makes small efforts to alter their lifestyle. He is torn between staying with his father who only attempts to provide a home life after a Social Services visit and his granny who called Social Services because she resents Tobin's father, but Tobin is sent to a foster home instead. He realizes how much he loves his family when they gather for counseling sessions and he learns that the good things in himself come from his family as well and not just the bad. The character of Tobin is well written with a "who cares" attitude because he knows what the world thinks of him. He surprises himself when he feels strangely good inside for sticking up for a teacher and for giving an extra credit oral report to the class about the soul of a chicken -- a feat never attempted by a McCauley. He does not like how his family lives up to their public image and longs to be away from them until he is forced into the situation. Chicken Boy captures the time in a boy's life when he feels most alienated from his family but his situation makes him realize how much he never wants to be away from them. He learns about himself while trying to figure out the nature of chickens and forges his own identity rahter than becoming just another lowdown member of the McCauley family.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Marco Polo "Bruce" on April 5, 2009
Format: Paperback
I really liked this book until the last few chapters, where the boy gets adopted by an upper-middle class family. From that point on the book's direction changes and it didn't satisfy me. The ending left a lot of loose ends and didn't seem to fit the rest of the book.

Maybe I'm a traditionalist. I wanted to see more of the boy running - now that he had sneakers and was dressing out for gym. That part of the book created a surge in energy for me. And I wanted to see more of what was going to happen with the chickens and with his oral report for Science Class.

I read a few chapters every night and I kept looking forward to them. But when the book changed with him being sent to the foster home, I kept saying "Huh?" and wanting a return to normalcy.

I didn't take it as real, either, that the boy would suddenly start reading and discussing National Geographic articles with his foster dad.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
Chicken Boy, by Frances O'Roark Dowell, sounds very childish and silly, but is a very true and can almost be sickening. The boy, Tobin, lives with is brothers and sisters in an old house behind a gas station. They live in pretty much a pig sty. This is mainly because Tobin's mother died of cancer and since then, their house has been a mess and his Grandma and dad will not talk to each other. This book gives you a real life feeling, it shows you how other people's lives can be. Tobin goes back to school and he doesn't have any friends. There is only one class he likes, and that is English. His teacher really believes he can do great things when no one can. One day, he gets in a fight with a boy and another boy, Harrison, helps him. Tobin and Harrison become good friends. Harrison raises chickens and is using them for a science extra credit project. Tobin gets to know all the chickens and soon gets involved with taking care of them. He buys his own chickens and takes care of them. He gets very close to them and learns that he can relate to them more than some humans and they give him a new outlook on life. This book is really touching because even through all Tobin is going through, he always goes to see the chickens.

By Grace
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