This is a refreshingly well-written encounter with richly developed and well-defined characters whom readers won’t soon forget.

—School Library Journal (starred review)

Meet Tobin McCauley. He’s got a near-certifiable grandmother, a pack of juvenile-delinquent siblings, and a dad who’s not going to win father of the year any time soon. To top it off, Tobin’s only friend truly believes that the study of chickens will reveal…the meaning of life? Getting through seventh grade isn’t easy for anyone, but when the first day of school starts out with your granny’s arrest, you know you’ve got real problems. Throw on a five-day suspension, a chicken that lays green eggs, and a family feud that’s tearing everyone to pieces, and you’re in for one heck of a ride.

Awards and Nominations

  • ALA Notable Children’s Books,
  • Bank Street Best Books of the Year
  • Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best
  • Dorothy Canfield Fisher Book Award Master List (VT)
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List
  • Kirkus Editor’s Choice
  • KSRC Middle School Titles – Top Pick
  • Massachusetts Children’s Book Award Master List
  • NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts
  • NYPL 100 Titles for Reading and Sharing
  • Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Master List
  • Texas Bluebonnet Master List

What will grab readers are Tobin’s wry, sad, immediate voice as he discovers how to nurture chickens, and Dowell’s depiction of adults, from Tobin’s kind decent teacher to his flawed granny and dad, both of whom let Tobin down… The strong narration and the child’s struggle with forgiveness make for poignant, aching drama.

—Booklist (starred review)