hey kid

Hey Kid,

unnamed-2You know how people tease you for reading so much? Don’t listen to them, and don’t change that. Escape into books when you need to. Remember that spending time with books doesn’t mean you don’t like people — it means you love stories. It’s fine to need a break from the everyday world sometimes, and a reading life is a pretty great life. Anyone who says you can’t live in books has never been a writer.

You know how, when you have a bad day, your mom always says “It’s material for your novel” – she’s right. It really is.

Try not to worry so much. It’s okay to feel afraid – it’s even smart, sometimes — but why let fear run your entire life? Think about what you actually, truly want to try. Is it going to hurt or kill you, or ruin your life? If not, maybe it’s worth it to try something new, even if you aren’t instantly good at it. It could even be fun. (It could even make a good story.)

It’s okay to ask for what you truly want. You’re going to be surprised how many things could have been possible if only you’d asked for them. Not everything. But more than enough. If it’s important, it’s worth asking.

Be your own kind of strong. Do the best you can to do what you think is right, even when it’s hard. Practice apologizing when you did something that wasn’t good after all. (You’re going to use that skill a lot.) Be brave for yourself, too — stand up for yourself. People shouldn’t treat you in ways you’d never treat someone else.

Listen to what you actually think. Just you. Everyone in your life is giving you advice and opinions right now, even me, and some of it’s really good advice, but you know what? It doesn’t matter as much as learning to find your own way through. Learn what’s right for you, and learn how to stick to it.

But remember how many people are on your side. Your family, your friends, your teachers, your community – even if they don’t say it, most of them are there for you when you need them. They believe in you. They are proud of you.

Remember that I’m proud of you, too.

When you didn’t do it right the first time? That’s because you were learning. Take that knowledge and try again. And again, and again, and again. (It’s a good thing you’re so stubborn. Hang onto that.)

When you cried because you weren’t brave enough to stand up for someone else? You didn’t let yourself off the hook. Keep trying, every time you can. (It’s still hard. It still matters.)

When you wondered what someone else would think, and then said what you believed anyway? When you stepped away from the crowd, or towards it, to do what you felt was right? Keep doing that.

Keep believing you can do anything. I can’t wait until you see what you can do.

Kelly, thirty years later

P.S. Maybe you don’t actually hate chickens. Or maybe you only hate Rhode Island Reds, like that one that pecked your foot. That’s fine; you can use that.

P.P.S. You know that book you really like, The Hoboken Chicken Emergency? Read that one again. And again. (Anyone who says you don’t learn from rereading books doesn’t know anything about writers.)

unnamedTwelve-year-old Sophie Brown feels like a fish out of water when she and her parents move from Los Angeles to the farm they’ve inherited from a great-uncle. But farm life gets more interesting when a cranky chicken appears and Sophie discovers the hen can move objects with the power of her little chicken brain: jam jars, the latch to her henhouse, the entire henhouse….

And then more of her great-uncle’s unusual chickens come home to roost. Determined, resourceful Sophie learns to care for her flock, earning money for chicken feed, collecting eggs. But when a respected local farmer tries to steal them, Sophie must find a way to keep them (and their superpowers) safe.

Told in letters to Sophie’s abuela, quizzes, a chicken-care correspondence course, to-do lists, and more.

Find Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer on IndieBound, Third Place Books, Powell’s, and Penguin Random House, or ask for it in bookstores and libraries near you.

Find more Hey Kid! letters here.

Kelly Jones has worked as a librarian and a bookseller, and has her own (much-loved, but fairly ordinary) chickens. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer is her first novel.
Connect with Kelly on curiosityjones.net, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

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