Review: The House with Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson (Illustrated by Melissa Castrillón)

‘Like a snowflake floating on the breeze…a glistening gem of a story with an air of elegance, beauty and fragility.’

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Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Title: The House with Chicken Legs
Author: Sophie Anderson (@sophieinspace)
Illustrator (Cover): Melissa Castrillón (@mv_castrillon)
Publisher: Usborne (@Usborne)
Page count: 352
Date of publication: 3rd May 2018
Series status: N/A
ISBN: 978-1474940665

Perfect for Year 5, 6 & 7.

#3Words3Emojis:
1. Beautiful 😍
2. Magical ✨
3. Heartfelt 💖


“Marinka dreams of a normal life, where her house stays in one place long enough for her to make friends. But her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. 

For Marinka’s grandmother is Baba Yaga, who guides spirits between this world and the next. Marinka longs to change her destiny and sets out to break free from her grandmother’s footsteps, but her house has other ideas…”

To read the first chapter of the book, Prologue – click here


The first line:

My house has chicken legs. Two or three times a year, without warning, it stands up in the middle of the night and walks away from where we’ve been living.


A little while back, I was scrolling through my feed on Twitter looking for books coming out in 2018 and the one that I kept returning to was this one, The House with Chicken Legs. Was it the sight of the cover, the talk of the plot or the glowing reviews from Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Peter Bunzl and Claire Fayers that kept making me come back? OK, I’ll admit it. It was all of these things but most of all, it was the title.

1. How could you choose to not read a book called ‘The House with Chicken Legs’?
2. How could you not be both fascinated and the slightest bit intrigued by what was to come?

Therefore, I just knew that I HAD to read it. Big thanks to Sophie Anderson and the lovely people at Usborne (@AnnaHoworth), for sending me a copy to read and so started this website!

The House with Chicken Legs is steeped in Russian folklore in the form of a Baba Yaga mythical retelling. You may think ‘Oh, just another retelling…’ but let me assure you, that this reimagining take on this tale is absolutely something else.

How would you feel if your house got to choose where you live?
How would you feel if your house decided who you met and became friends with?
How would you feel if you had great responsibility bestowed upon you but you wanted – no, needed – to choose your own destiny?

Along the way, Marinka, the House and her trusted jackdaw, Jack meet: life – Benjamin, Benji, Salma, Lamya; death – Nina, Serina, The Old Man and his Wife; and Yaga – Baba Yaga, Old Yaga and plenty of other Yagas; to try to work out the answers to these life-changing questions.

And we haven’t even yet spoken of the House. Well what can I say? The House is larger than life with an even bigger heart; personified perfectly with oodles of charm and charisma but also tinged with a loveable rawness and roughness around the edges that’ll have you yearning and pining deeply for it. Marinka is the right kind of heroine for this story but the House is just as much as a hero for me.

The more you read on, the more Marinka will have you wanting to join her on her journey of self-discovery, fate, companionship, loyalty and affinity where houses walk (and run!); where the dead talk; and where life, death and Yaga come together in a superbly crafted story.

Sophie’s use of language is packed full of rich and vivid imagery which ensures that the words leap and dance off the page effortlessly in to the reader’s mind creating stunning worlds of magic and adventure. This is further complemented by her utterly beautiful style of writing and divine choice of vocabulary (e.g. ‘nebulous‘, ‘tendrils‘ and ‘balustrade‘ to name but a few!), which is perfect for logophiles like many teachers and I who want to introduce a broader range of vocabulary to children.

By the end, like I was, you’ll be trying your best to hold on and not say goodbye to these characters and this stunning story. But you’ll also learn some Russian; some chemistry (I loved the mentions of compounds combining to make fireworks and scientists like Rosalind Franklin); wonder why you haven’t experienced a Yaga party before and you’ll certainly want your own House with Chicken Legs after this… I know that I do.

It’s like a snowflake floating on the breeze… a glistening gem of a story with an air of elegance, beauty and fragility.

One that needs to be in your hands as a teacher and in the hands of your class. Unmissable. I adored and devoured every single word.

A purely magical debut and an absolute must-read for 2018.

Out 3rd May 2018!

The House with Chicken Legs is available to pre-order now online or from any good bookshop.


If you can’t wait to hear from Sophie for that long, she’ll be joining The Reader Teacher for a Q&A very soon!

If you have a question you would like to ask Sophie, please click here!


Mr E
📚

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Have you been lucky enough to read the book already?
Can you describe it using #3Words3Emojis?
Will you pre-order the book to read?

Message me. Tweet me. Email me. Reply to me in the comments below…

4 thoughts on “Review: The House with Chicken Legs – Sophie Anderson (Illustrated by Melissa Castrillón)

  1. Hello! I have also read The House with Chicken Legs and think it is fab! As an ex-teacher (and now an Usborne Team Leader) I managed to win 30 copies which I have shared with a couple of schools to study. I can’t wait for their reviews. My 9 year old has started it too but she is also caught up with some other Usborne books. It is such a magical book. Love your blog! Nicky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks a lot! Hope the reviews are starting to come in for The House with Chicken Legs from those schools and that they’re singing it’s praises because it’s just pure delight! Hope your 9-year-old is thoroughly enjoying it too.

      Like

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