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Fairy Tale Poultry

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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What do Miley Cyrus, Prince Charles, and Chevy Chase have in common with children’s book author and illustrator Jan Brett? They all have backyard chickens.

Brett may be best known for her books, but she is also an avid breeder of chickens, with a flock of almost 80 that includes Cochin, Silkies, Polish, and Buff Brahmas.

Growing up on the South Shore outside of Boston, Brett’s family kept donkeys, guinea pigs, and chickens. “When I was eight,” she recalls, “I even had a chicken that rode on the handlebars of my bike.”

Her love of drawing, like her love of animals, was also apparent early on. “I remember the special quiet of rainy days when I felt that I could enter the pages of my beautiful picture books,” says Brett, who today splits time between the South Shore and the Berkshires. “Now I try to recreate that feeling of believing that the imaginary place I’m drawing really exists.”

Brett’s exquisitely drawn books include The Mitten, Hedgie’s Surprise, The Three Snow Bears, and her latest offering, Cinders: A Chicken Cinderella.

This week, Brett visits the Valley to do a presentation and book signing at the Northeastern Poultry Congress in West Springfield. Close to 2,000 birds are expected to be at the event. Thankfully, none of them are expected to twerk.

Jan. 18, 1:30 p.m., Mallory Complex, Eastern States Exposition Center (Big E Fairgrounds, West Springfield, (413) 586-4235.

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