Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Monday, 1 April 2013

Impeccable Petunia - Katie Christine

Impeccable Petunia Part 1: Claws, Paws, Feathers and Jaws

‘The only chick with black and white markings, Petunia stood out, and often found herself the subject of other chick’s ridicule, and worse.’

Petunia is a hen who prefers spending her time in her own little garden full of beautiful, colourful flowers, rather than the confines of the chicken coop or the company of the other hens.

‘The hen yard felt small and oppressive, but amidst the confinement and crowded quarters, Petunia had carved out her own little piece of joy. Her garden lay tucked into a forgotten corner at the far end of the fence.’

Bernadette, with ‘piercing, bulging eyes’, is the hen who tries to rule the roost and dominate the other chicks, whilst Francine is the head of the brood. However, the Orpas are the ones to really be afraid of... Sadly, Petunia has several encounters with these unfriendly hens as she is different in her ways from them, and therefore distrusted.

Petunia offers companionship to the lady who lives in the house, learning new things all the time, and she derives much happiness from the time she spends with Silkie, as she has named the lady. She is alone amongst the hens in enjoying spending time with a human; the others viewed humans ‘with the utmost suspicion and contempt.’ Macy is the resident cat, with whom Petunia has some interesting and surprising encounters as an unusual kind of friendship forms.

The story encompasses themes of loneliness and being different, of cruel bullying and finding unexpected friendship. Through the behaviour of the hens towards Petunia, who finds herself at the bottom of the pecking order, the author demonstrates how cliques can gang up on individuals and cause fear through their intimidation of them.

The illustrations are excellent; really gorgeous pictures at the start of each chapter which relate to that part of the story immediately to come.

I was impressed by the quality of the writing and the language used. This is a strong story and the characters really came to life as I read. The garden is vividly evoked and Petunia’s little world is richly imagined. I felt glad for her as she ventured out into the unknown and discovered new things; she represents the bravery of the individual to break away from the crowd and please themselves, despite strong pressure to conform. 

There is some violence towards Petunia which makes this unsuitable for very young children I think, but the situations within the story could certainly be removed from the chicken coop and placed in a school playground context and discussed if one were dealing with bullying and being different. As this is billed as part 1, and the ending is rather open, I would be interested to find out what happens next.

There's a website here where you can find out more about the book and the couple who have created it, as well as view the illustrations. 

Thanks very much to the author for sending an ebook copy of this story to read and review.

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