Gwen the Rescue Hen

Illustrated by Sonja Stangl

Publisher: Stone Pier Press

Gwen has spent her whole life in a big egg-laying hen house, so she knows very little about what chickens can do (besides lay eggs, of course). A fateful tornado turns her world upside-down and sideways, landing her in a strange new place that’s nothing like the hen house.

Using her wits and chicken superpowers, Gwen dodges danger at every turn until she finds safety and friendship with a boy named Mateo. Together they discover how extraordinary an ordinary chicken really is.

The book includes a bonus section called “More About Chickens,” where curious readers can learn that chickens have extraordinary eyesight, a complex language of 24 sounds, and are descended from dinosaurs, among other fun facts.

Gwen the Rescue Hen is the second children’s book in Stone Pier Press’s Farm Animal Rescue Series, perfect for ages 4 to 7. The first book, Sprig the Rescue Pig, was released in the Spring of 2018.

Reviews and Praise

  • Kirkus Reviews–

    Chickens in a factory farm get an unexpected chance at a better life. Crammed into a tiny cage, with hardly any room to move, Hen longs to stretch her wings and fly. But like the other chickens in the cages that line the pitch-black barn, she is part of an egg farm, so the only flying she can do is in her dreams. Suddenly a roaring sound fills the air ("HOWOOOOH!"). A tornado rips the roof off of the barn ("KABOOM!") and takes Hen's cage swirling with it. When she touches down ("CLONK!"), she is amazed to see a world of color and tasty grass. But there are also new dangers to fear: barking dogs and zooming motorcycles. Luckily she meets Mateo, a tan-skinned, brown-haired boy who has a penchant for chickens. Mateo renames Hen "Gwen" and learns to care for her and her friends, whom he finds and brings home. Readers will happily learn along with Mateo, using the intriguing list of chicken facts appended at the end. Stangl's teardrop-shaped fowl further endear as they peer out from the pages with big eyes and bobbling bodies. With a light touch (and much onomatopoeia), Crawford offers compassion and insight on farm-animal rescues. (Picture book. 4-8)

More Reviews and Praise

  • "In telling these heartwarming tales of resilience, compassion and love, Crawford avoids the more brutal realities of factory farming, showing simply that these farms are extremely unhappy places for such intelligent and emotional beings. She focuses instead on how truly wonderful these overlooked and poorly treated animals are—that they're way more than just bacon and nuggets."—Reynard Loki, Ecowatch

  • School Library Journal–

    K-Gr 2—"When a tornado rips the roof off the building where a hen and her fellow chickens have been housed in the pitch black, in overcrowded cages, the feathered friends are suddenly free. Where she used to only dream of flying, she can now spread her wings and lift (slightly) into the air. She soon meets a young boy, Mateo, who gently gains her trust, sets up a lovely coop for her and her friends in his backyard, and names her Gwen. Colorful mixed media artwork showcases the drama of the tornado as the chickens' cage is lifted into the vortex ("…terrifying and thrilling, twirling and whirling through space…"), Gwen's curiosity at the wide world around her ("Colors, so many colors. The greenest greens, yellowest yellows, and reddest reds."), and her utter contentment when she finds her forever home with Mateo. Back matter includes interesting facts about chickens (they are good at math, feel empathy for other chickens, and have their own language) while the endpapers depict Gwen in dozens of winsome poses. Readers who have yet to learn about factory farming will likely want to know more about why Gwen and her friends were in such terrible conditions at the start of the story and will come away with an increased respect for the intelligence of farm fowls. VERDICT A gentle first entry into animal rights that will inspire young readers to think critically about the meat we consume and how farm animals are treated."

  • "I grew up on a farm and learned about farm animals first-hand. Most kids, however, learn about farm animals from kids books - kids love animals and animals continue to be a popular subject in children's lit. But all is not right with farm animals and the way they're treated and it's a dilemma to figure out how to educate kids about all that horrible stuff in a child-appropriate way. I think you nailed it with Gwen the Rescue Hen. (And Sprig, too!) Plus it's just fun and heart-warming to read.”–Randy Graham, Randy’s Chicken Blog

  • "I’ve always said there are more reasons to raise backyard chickens than just getting fresh eggs – as good as that reason may be. Three other great reasons – to promote humane food production, to educate children about animals, and to have wonderful family pets – are explored in this delightful children’s book, Gwen the Rescue Hen."–Deb Neyens, Counting My Chickens blog

  • "Our society has long needed more kid-appropriate, high-quality media that gives them access to pro-animal stories in a compelling, age-appropriate way. Gwen the Rescue Hen does just that, allowing young readers to follow along as this darling chicken goes on the adventure of a lifetime thanks to a sudden twist of fate. Her story safely allows young readers to ask important questions about humans' relationships to animals, and the stunning illustrations allow readers to stay fully engaged. I have no doubt this book will quickly become your kid's favorite nighttime read."–Jasmin Singer, co-host of the "Our Hen House" podcast, Senior Editor of VegNews Magazine

  • “Do we ever really think much about the chicken, or the egg? We should! Gwen the Rescue Hen asks us to really see chickens  and understand their unique kind of intelligence and their superpowers. Told with humor, insight, and compassion, and beautifully illustrated, Gwen uses her wits to find her way to a new life in which she can be the chicken she was meant to be.”–Brian Kateman, Editor of The Reducetarian Solution and The Reducetarian Cookbook

About The Author

About Leslie Crawford

Leslie Crawford always thought she’d wind up living in the country raising vegetables and animals on a farm straight out of Charlotte’s Web. That didn’t happen, though she does have six chickens and five rescue pigeons in her San Francisco home. Crawford became a writer instead, producing stories for San Francisco Magazine, Salon, Metropolitan, and many other publications and websites before channeling her farming aspirations into a story about a hen who finds her way out of a cramped cage into a life of adventure with a young boy. A vegetarian but in no way a self-righteous one, as she likes to point out, Crawford thinks of the her ongoing children’s book series as gentle reminders that all farm animals are worthy of respect. Leslie loves any excuse to write and speak about topics relating to sustainable food, animal welfare, and children’s books.

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Pages:40 pages
Book Art:Full-color illustrations throughout
Size: 8 x 10 inch
Publisher:Stone Pier Press
Pub. Date: November 6, 2018
Hardcover: 9780998862323

Available In/Retail Price

Hardcover, 40 pages, $17.99USD, £13.99GBP

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