Home Again: Nora and Her Chicks by Patricia MacLachlan
WHEN NORA CAME TO AMERICA FROM RUSSIA, THE PRAIRIE WAS NOT BEAUTIFUL TO NORA.
THERE WERE NO TREES LIKE THE RUSSIAN TREES, ONLY ONE COTTONWOOD BY THE RIVER.
"DON'T CRY, NORA," SAID HER FATHER. "WE'LL PLANT TREES."
THERE WERE NO HILLS LIKE THE RUSSIAN HILLS.
"YOU CAN'T PLANT HILLS!" SAID NORA.
And for Nora, putting down roots in her new home is hard. Mother and Father are too busy working to think about faraway hills and lost trees. But Nora feels lost under that big prairie sky. Her baby brother Milo is sweet, but he can't even talk to her yet. Nora wants a friend, but the only girl within miles is Susannah, who is too shy to speak, to do anything more than give a tiny wave as her wagon goes by.
As Milo grows, Nora finds a stray dog she names Willie. But from the first, Willie likes Milo best.
"MILO'S FIRST WORD WAS "WILLIE!"
Milo has Willie, and Father has his cows.
"I NEED SOMETHING OF MY OWN," SAYS NORA.
So when Father buys ten chicks and two young geese, Nora makes them her own, giving all of them names. The chicks and geese follow her everywhere she goes, and one Sunday morning, they even follow the whole family in their wagon to church. The minister only laughs and welcomes the family, poultry and all, and Susannah smiles to see Nora and her chicks at church.
But when the family goes home after church, they count and find that one of Nora's chicks is missing!
But before she can begin searching, a wagon comes rumbling along the road. In it are Susannah's mother and a smiling Susannah, with Nora's missing chick on her lap.
"I BROUGHT YOU THE LOST CHICK!" SAID SUSANNAH.
"NATASHA!" CRIED NORA.
NORA SMILED. "WHEN MY CHICKS HAVE CHICKS, I'LL GIVE YOU SOME," SAID NORA.
"THEN WE'LL BOTH HAVE CHICKS."
Nora's chicks indeed bring a new beginning and Nora's prairie becomes home in Patricia MacLachlan's latest, Nora's Chicks (Candlewick, 2013). Newbery Medalist MacLachlan (for Sarah, Plain and Tall) returns to her theme of home and family in this simple and sweet story of how a brood of chicks changes Nora's mind about her new home. The charmingly old-fashioned illustrations by artist Kathryn Brown fit this homespun tale perfectly. As Publishers Weekly puts it, "Brown’s smudgy, windswept watercolors capture the starkness and beauty of the prairie and the simplicity of the life there... a lovely, affecting package.