Chookalooka: The Tale of a Battery Hen
by Marie Hocking
Xlibris AU

Free all my sisters
From their cages of pain
And let them run free
In green paddocks again."

A little chick grows up knowing only a battery shed, crowded in with thousands of other little chickens just like herself. Lights are always on to keep the hens awake and laying eggs constantly. But this hen is different; she has a yearning to be free. At the corner of the shed, there is a door through which she can see the world outside. A long time passes with no chance for escape, but one day a truck comes by to pick up the hens in their cages. The little hen spots a bent wire in her cage and manages to squeeze through the gap, flutter her wings, and land on a busy road. But luck is again with her. A kindly lady pulls over, gently picks her up, and takes her home where she will be given a name—Chookalooka. She gladly lays eggs for her new, caring family and occasionally enjoys a treat—“sharing a sip of beer or two” with Granny.

A homage to a battery hen with unusual courage, this brightly illustrated book is written to enlighten children—and possibly some adults as well—to the evils of battery farm practices. Though the harsh cruelties of factory farming are only mildly portrayed, the author opens a way for a wider discussion should a young child have questions about it. Hocking, a former veterinary nurse, shares her love of animals in a way that can pique the conscience. Illustrations by Kazumi Kai with a thematic pale blue background lend charm to this rhyming tale, and the depiction of Chookalooka with her red crest and big pleading eyes underscores the sad truths beneath the surface. This is a great book for young children and a satisfying read-to for parents or grandparents with an underlying, important, message.

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