I have no explanation for why I paired these together. Maybe it’s because it’s now February and both of these were published in January and I needed to get these reviews out. Otherwise…I have no explanation. One is a children’s book about a boy stuck on a farm he doesn’t want to be at until he meets an alien chicken and it’s up to him and the chicken to save Earth. The other is magical realism where a miniature and an actual mansion are linked and they serve to link two people.
Bertie and the Alien Chicken by Jenny Pearson
Title: Bertie and the Alien Chicken
Author: Jenny Pearson
Publisher: Barrington Stoke Ltd
Publication date: January 5, 2023
Genre: Children’s, Science Fiction and Fantasy
Description and purchase link(s)
One Sentence Summary: Bertie doesn’t want to spend the summer at his uncle’s farm, but things get interesting when he meets an alien chicken and the fate of the Earth is in their hands/wings.
I liked it. It was funny. It took place on a farm, so there was a chicken. The chicken is an alien, so it’s weird. I think I would read the next book if there is one.
As you can see, my eight-year-old hasn’t quite mastered book reviewing, but getting him to read this book was kind of a feat all its own considering he forgot about it after I showed it to him on NetGalley and he said he’d be interested in reading it. I mean, it does take a bit for approvals to come through and an eight-year-old can have a short memory for things he doesn’t care for too much (video games, now, are a completely different story), so it meant I had to read the book, too. Alien chickens? Not really my thing, but my son liked it, even if he didn’t sound totally convinced of it when I made him tell me what he thought.
Bertie and the Alien Chicken occurs over the span of approximately a day. It starts with Bertie being dropped off at his uncle’s farm since his mum is off to America for work and his Dad and stepmother are busy with a new baby. I loved the way Bertie tried to get out of going to the farm, and it gave a small glimpse into how he felt about his parents no longer being together. At the farm, well, Bertie doesn’t have the greatest start, especially when he encounters the alien chicken. This really was the fun and funny part. Bertie is very much a young boy, and I could see why my son had a good time reading this part.
And then the second half of the story gets going, and I think this is where my son lost steam with the story. He’s still at the point where he likes funny things, especially when it comes to potty humor. But that kind of humor doesn’t really linger past the halfway mark. Oh, the chicken, nicknamed Nugget, is quite funny, but I don’t think it was the kind of funny my son appreciates yet. There’s something goofy and diabolical about it, especially when it comes to light that the chicken’s race, the Nurgles, will destroy Earth unless they get Earth’s most valuable resource. And so begins their race against time to figure that out, and then how to send intangible, abstract things to the Nurgles. I appreciated how it went into things like loneliness, jealousy, and hope, but that part just completely lost my son.
Bertie and the Alien Chicken is a cute book. After a strong, funny start, it evolved into a softer, cozier story about humanity and what’s really important to us. Did I think my son appreciated it? Not really, but maybe one day. As a parent, I quite liked it. It’s cute and offers some lessons on being a person living on Earth.
Rating: I think I’m going to go with a solid 4 cups. It was cute, but it definitely didn’t hold my son’s interest all the way through.
The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges
Title: The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone
Author: Audrey Burges
Publication date: January 24, 2023
Genre: Magical Realism
Description and purchase link(s)
One Sentence Summary: Myra has spent a lifetime decorating and redecorating a miniature mansion, drawing thousands and millions to her blog, but she’s missing a major component to the story until Alex waltzes into her life and tells her he lives in the real mansion.
The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone is the kind of story I love. It’s magical and soft with a sweet love story wrapped in the middle. Some family drama that goes back a few generations was some added tension, and the new problems Myra and her mother face just pile more on top. Unfortunately, I found the story a bit too predictable, so the only thing my mind latched onto was how, exactly, the mini and big mansions were connected. I really, really wanted to know how it worked, but this was much less about that and much more about a family trying to heal itself through love, considering what seems like what should be a big reveal was easy to see ten miles away and I just couldn’t slog through all the backstory anymore at some point.
First of all, I had a hard time getting into the story in the first place. There’s a constant shift in time lines and they just felt like they were coming out of nowhere at me at the beginning. The description didn’t allude to a woman from decades ago being a key character, so I was left feeling a little blindsided by the constant switching back and forth in history. It was disorienting and took me at least a quarter of the book for me to catch up, and then how to keep teh shifting years for three different people straight. Unfortunately, how the characters tied together was way too predictable and I felt like it was incredibly dragged out. There’s almost too much information I didn’t feel to be particularly necessary to tell the story, so I felt like I was reading a lot of padding and fluff. It also felt like a commentary on raising children who are unlike their parents, so I wasn’t quite sure if this was supposed to be about parent-child relationships or the incredible connection between Myra and Alex.
Myra and Alex are another component I struggled with. Myra just felt like a sad character. On one hand, I could kind of understand her position, but it also made it all seem very superficial. She was just stuck and unwilling to budge, which made me irritated with her at times. I was more fascinated with her minuscule mansion and her best friend Gwen. And thank goodness she had both otherwise I’m not sure if I could have stood to read her story. Alex, on the other hand, was absolutely lovely. I adored him. Except for the part where he falls into family patterns and gets stuck helping out with the family business when he’d really rather not be doing it. It was hard to feel for him because he got out once and seemed to be unable to get out again. His character was interesting, though, and a lot of fun to read. Myra and Alex’s correspondence relationship was sweet, but so dragged out that, when they did meet, their relationship just took off like a shot and I felt like I got whiplash from it all.
The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone, unfortunately, didn’t quite explain what I wanted to be explained. I’m no clearer on how the mansions worked together than I was before I started reading. I just got a lot of crazy family drama, a shut-in, and weird houses that work in tandem because there’s some magic underlying them, and I guess magic explains everything? Parts of this were sweet, but I just couldn’t get into the story, mostly because none of my burning questions were adequately answered.
My rating: 3 cups of tea
Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for review copies. All opinions are my own or my son’s.
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2 thoughts on “Book Reviews: Bertie and the Alien Chicken by Jenny Pearson and The Minuscule Mansion of Myra Malone by Audrey Burges”
I wanted to know more about the magic and the connection between the two houses in The Minuscule Mansion too but I was okay with the predictability. Excellent reviews!
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I’m glad you were able to enjoy it! It does have a nice story in it.
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