Chicken Charlie’s Year is an enjoyable read for any age, but I especially recommend it to fourth grade boys. Based on my class last year, I can just see them rolling with laughter as they read this book.
Susan is part of my local writers’ group. I’ve known her for several years now but hadn’t actually read her work. I told her I would love to read this book and review it. Then, a string of unfortunate events and attitudes crossed my path (my events and my attitudes!) so I didn’t do it right away. Eventually, I quit procrastinating and opened it up in order to skim it. I wanted to review it quickly. I couldn’t do it! Every time I tried to skim, I got caught up in the story and read every word. I’d even go back and re-read sections, because they were so fun to read.
Here’s the description from Amazon:
Ten-year-old Charlie Petkus isn’t surprised to get scratchy wool underwear from Aunt Mutzi for Christmas 1932, but he is surprised that her gift package includes a diary. To his dismay, his Lithuanian-immigrant mother thinks a diary is the perfect present. “You man of family, Casimir,” she says. “You learn to write the English like good American.” Charlie wants more than anything to make Mama proud. But he’s not sure education is the way to manhood, especially since he doesn’t like school. With the Great Depression on, Charlie thinks it would be much manlier to quit the 4th grade and go to work like his friend Ray. From Christmas 1932 to Christmas 1933, Charlie finds plenty of fun and adventure in his ethnic neighborhood. He discovers that sledding on a car hood results in embarrassment and a very snowy bottom. He finds that a “dead” pheasant that isn’t quite as dead as he thought can make a big mess in a Ford Model B. He learns that if you take a job harvesting onions before school, you get your feet filthy on just the day they make you take your shoes off to be weighed and measured—but you also earn a whole dime for your work. By night, Charlie writes in his diary to make Mama proud. But by day, he watches Ray, who now dresses like a man, smokes like a man, and earns a man’s wage. Charlie wonders why his mama and sisters should live on cabbage soup and the occasional package of broken cookies while “the man of the family” sits in school writing a poem called “Spring is Here.” The decision Charlie makes next will determine the course of his life and his understanding of what it really means to be a man.
If I were teaching in a third or fourth grade classroom, I would love to use this book for the whole class. The kids would be surprised at the historical details and would be laughing out loud at the story. I love that this is a book that both boys and girls would love. And, I can just imagine all the tie -ins to other curriculum areas – history for sure!
The book ends with a satisfying Christmas scene, which made me very happy. I just love a good Christmas story (even though it was just that one chapter.) I would recommend this for teachers, homeschoolers, and kids in grades three and four.
(I received a free copy of the book from the author in return for my honest review. The Amazon link below is an affiliate link.)
If you would like to buy the book in paperback or Kindle, please click here:Chicken Charlie
If you would like to win the book, please email me: Stephenie (at) faith-filled (dot) com or leave a comment on my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StephenieHovlandWriter
Susan said she would send you the book you prefer: paper or digital. You get to choose! Isn’t that great?
Deadline: Make a comment or email by Monday, June 8 at 10 am Central time zone.