The Hen Who Sailed Around the World

This charming tale of an actual chicken of the sea (with no apologies whatsoever to pop ding-a-ling Jessica Simpson) reads like a picture book, but it is a fun bit of nonfiction to which kids will absolutely flock. (Yeah, I’m going all in on the chicken puns, so get ready.) Guirec Soudee is a young French adventurer who crossed the Atlantic by himself at age 22 and then became the youngest navigator in the world to cross the Northwest Passage alone at 23. Well… he wasn’t eggs-actly alone… he brought along Monique, a hen, thinking she could provide a ready supply of fresh eggs for food. However, she beak-ame (told you) a cherished companion to Soudee as he sailed across the Atlantic to the Caribbean, northward to Greenland, where they overwintered for four months until the ice broke enough to allow Soudee to resume sailing. Their journey would conclude in California after more than 17,000 miles! Soudee’s narrative is simple and light, mixing logistical details with giggle-inducing ones like Monique pooping on his shoulder as he attempts to take a “brave adventurers” photo. It’s a perfect read-aloud, but make sure your whole audience can see the photographs because they range from spectacular to eggs-tremely endearing. Monique boldly goes where no chicken has gone before, venturing out onto the ice – stylishly dressed in a sweater made out of two gloves by Soudee. Each photo of this daring duo is more entertaining than the last, with Monique perching on a large fish Soudee has caught or sharing a slice of jam-smeared bread with him. This is such a cheerful book, with Soudee’s zest for life evident in his open, happy face and in the humorous photos he takes of Monique. The shots of the Arctic, some taken with a drone, are truly stunning. Incorporate this into a unit on geography or the environment (very relevant with increasing rates of polar ice melt). Then again, just enjoying the sweet friendship between this young man and his chicken won’t run you a-fowl of the book’s message. Okay, that was the last one. No, wait. There’s no doubt this book will fly off the shelves because it is all it’s cracked up to be. Now I’m done.

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