Am I imagining this or have chickens become fashionable? In my suburban neighborhood, a few trendsettersmissharper1 are keeping chickens in their backyards -- it's against code restrictions, but if the neighbors don't tattle and the chicken coops are hidden from street view, the homeowners get away with it. And they're rewarded with a steady supply of delicious fresh eggs.

If this is a trend, debut author Jane Berentson is tapping into it in her new novel, Miss Harper Can Do It, on sale Thursday. Annie Harper is a third-grade teacher who finds solace in the companionship of a pet chicken when her boyfriend ships out for a 392-day military deployment. ("Wow, Annie," a friend tells her. "You have a garbage disposal, a dishwasher, and a chicken.") To prove that there are those among us who keep chickens not only for food, but also as pets, Berentson has produced a video about pet chickens on Staten Island:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzbd7ihblCc]

tillielaysChickens are all the rage in children's books, too, with several new picture books touting the glories of our feathered friends. One of our favorites is Tillie Lays An Egg by Terry Golson. In finely detailed photos by Ben Fink, Tillie gallivants around the farm, laying her eggs in unexpected places. Pre-school teacher Allison tells us that her students love to spot Tillie's eggs and beg to hear this book read aloud again and again. And here's the best part: little ones (and their interested parents) can watch the real-life Tillie and her chicken companions on Golson's live hencam. Be sure to click on "Inside" for a second view inside the chicken coop (eggsactly!). Why am I suddenly craving deviled eggs?

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