cover image Nora’s Chicks

Nora’s Chicks

Patricia MacLachlan, illus. by Kathryn Brown. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4753-7

Newbery Medalist MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall) revisits the prairie in this tender story of a family that emigrates from Russia to the American frontier. Though Nora’s parents are aware of their daughter’s sense of isolation on her new turf, they can provide little solace. A stray dog becomes devoted to Nora’s baby brother, and her father has his horses and cows for company. “I need something all my own,” laments Nora; her father inadvertently provides that very thing when he brings home 10 chicks and two geese “for eating.” Nora decides they are too beautiful to eat, and he agrees, conceding, “They are yours.” With her usual taut and penetrating style, MacLachlan reveals the reawakening of Nora’s spirit as she bonds with her chicks, which also bring her closer to a neighboring girl. Brightened by the festive patterns of Nora’s Old World fashions, Brown’s (Kisses on the Wind) smudgy, windswept watercolors capture the starkness and beauty of the prairie and the simplicity of the life there. This is a lovely, affecting package. Ages 3–5. Agent: Ruben Pfeffer, East West Literary Agency. (Feb.)