unexpected challenges enrich lives when approached with curiosity and courage

PEGGY
by Anna Walker - Houghton Mifflin, 2014
ages 2 to 4 years / Australia, diversitys.o.s.e.
 

Backyard chooks (chickens) are endlessly entertaining—they’re full of personality, charming to watch and obliging with lovely eggs. 

Peggy is a backyard chook; she has a lovely little house in a suburban back yard with sunflowers and a trampoline. 

One day a strong wind blows her into the city (it’s Melbourne I’m pretty sure, but you have to look for clues). This presents both a dilemma (how will Peggy get home) and a brilliant opportunity to see new things. 

Peggy is quite the inquisitive chook, as chooks tend to be, so seeing the city through her eyes is a lot of fun. This is a great story, and the illustrations are wonderful because they tell so much of the story too. I love the pages showing Peggy at home: she bounces on the trampoline, plays with the sunflowers and generally goofs around and has a ball, in sunshine or snow.

There are fabulous contrasts between the adults hurrying along under umbrellas (whose lack of curiosity even extends to a chicken wandering down a busy city street!) and Peggy who is fascinated by all the things ‘she had never seen before’, such as herself on TV, a mohawked teenager, a city fountain and so on. 

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There’s a page showing Peggy indulging in all sorts of new experiences—it's fabulous, funny and thought provoking. What would be new to a chicken? What is new to me? What should I be seeing afresh?

Finally, after following some sunflowers part way home, Peggy meets up with some pigeons who show her how to get the rest of the way home.

Peggy saw things she had never seen before.
Peggy watched, hopped, jumped, twirled and tasted.

It’s a very satisfying ending and there are another couple of pages showing Peggy in her post-adventure everyday life – now with the pigeons visiting. But the very last page is my favourite – it tells us that Peggy “sometimes caught the train to the city.”  What a great reminder to embrace new things while loving home!

This is a really appealing book to read with someone who is mad for chickens, or worried about new experiences, maybe a homebody—they’ll relate to Peggy’s yearning for home, someone who is a bit too busy to notice the joy and fun in life, or deeply attached to a routine - or keen to try new things!

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* We’ve had chooks for many years and they're a constant source of fun. The pic is one of ours who got a fright when being chased by the neighbour’s dog. I couldn’t find her anywhere until about half an hour later when I found her nestled in the family’s folded laundry—I guess she felt safe there!  She was very glad to get home safely too!

Names in this book - Peggy