Monday, 3 March 2014

A One-Eyed Chook Called Sheila

A One- Eyed Chook Called Sheila by Pat Clarke, illustrated by Graeme Compton (Little Steps Publishing)
HB RRP A$24.95
ISBN 9781925059014
Reviewed by Rose Davies

A chapter book for the 5 to 12 age group, this hard back has very expressive almost cartoon-like drawings of the personalities and key scenes by Graeme Compton. Graeme is an award winning wildlife and portrait artist with a passion for illustration and cartoons and it shows. 

Sheila, a white chook, wears a black eye patch over her right eye because one day on the farm she just managed to escape a hovering eagle, who unfortunately took her right eye. Sheila’s friend Carol the Christmas turkey, has just been gobbled up by a greedy fox, before Christmas! Is chicken his next course, she wonders, now there is no turkey? 

Sheila is worried because her eye laying days are long gone, so she may be next for the chopping block. Along with chook friends Zelma and Louise, the trio hatch a plan to escape from the farm and run away before there are any other dramas or they are some one’s dinner. Their white cockatoo friend will distract Rex the rooster while the three make their escape.

Unfortunately all does not go well. Rufus the fox sees them and comes after them, just as he is about to pounce an eagle swoops from the sky and picks up Shelia from behind and soars into the sky towards his nest. He does not eat her but instead has a polite chat, tells her he is very lonely interested in eating her but rather. would she come and live with him. He apologises for pecking out her eye by accident and chasing her chicks then introduces himself- Elvis, the wedge-tailed eagle. Meanwhile Shelia’s two friends have run for their lives from the fox, flapped their wings  and flown off a cliff, swum in a river and are now in a forest where they meet all sorts of new friends including an owl, koalas, goanna, kookaburras and a Mallee fowl. 

Sheila tells Elvis she’s very worried about her chook friends.  He takes her in his claws and flies out over the forests to find Shelia’s two friends. The chooks are eventually reunited. While they are chatting, the old fox coming up behind Sheila and just as Rufus the fox is about to pounce on Shelia for the second time, Elvis swoops from the sky and picks up the fox, rather than Sheila in his claws.  Elvis takes the fox far, far away so he cannot get back to chase the farm and forest creatures again, or is it going to be far enough???? 

This is a fast-paced gripping story with plenty of unexpected twists and turns. Friendships are built, there’s team work, respect, fun, adventure, excitement and a happy ending!

Rose Davies is an established non-fiction author of environment and nature books for adults. She also writes freelance for several publications, runs a consultancy business focussed on community nature and environment education. She’s also been writing reviews for a variety of publications for over 25 years.  

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