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Excerpt: 'One Hen'

Kojo's idea is to buy a hen. He and his mother will eat some of the eggs it lays and sell the rest at the market. There is a farmer in a neighboring village with many hens, and Kojo will ask to buy one.

It takes Kojo two hours to walk to the chicken farm. By the time he arrives, he is hot and dusty. He wonders how he will know which hen to choose. There are so many!

Kojo tries to look over all the chickens. A white one pecks the ground near his foot. Should he choose this hen? A speckled one flaps her wings and clucks. Perhaps she is the one? All at once Kojo spies a plump brown hen with a bright red comb sitting in her nest and puffing out her feathers. She looks as if she would enjoy laying eggs. Now he doesn't have to think: he knows in his heart that she is the one.

Kojo pays for the brown hen and puts her in a wicker basket. He gently covers the hen with a cloth and lifts the basket onto his head. As he walks home, he dreams about the future and he sees a lot of eggs in it — eggs to eat and, if he is lucky, eggs that he can sell to buy more hens.

Selection from One Hen by Katie Smith Milway and illustrated by Eugenie Fernandes reprinted by permission of Kids Can Press Ltd., Toronto. Text copyright (c) 2008 Katie Smith Milway. Illustrations copyright (c) 2008 Eugenie Fernandes.

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Katie Smith Milway