Okay, this book lies. But it is fabulous because of it. Mad, laugh-out-loud hilarious and wonderful fun, 'Charlie Changes into a Chicken' is an unexpected joy.
Charlie McGuffin has a lot going on in his life: his brother is in hospital, his parents are panicking and the school bully is throwing his weight about. But Charlie has an impressive secret. He can turn into animals, with funny and devastating consequences. Only with the help of his friends can Charlie find out why.
I was initially dubious about 'Charlie Changes into a Chicken' because it just seemed so ridiculous. But this is exactly why it is a huge amount of fun too. Sam Copeland is a force to be reckoned with. Speaking to the reader directly, using bizarre footnotes, replying to 'children's' daft letters, Copeland is a mischievous writer indeed. Through cracking dialogue he captures the weird, though kind, brains of children; Sarah Horne's excellent illustrations capturing the frantic energy of the writing too.
This is a great book to get reluctant readers to, well, read. What is great to see here is a diverse set of characters working together with an underlying message about dealing with stress. I think many adults will see through the crazy narrative antics (which, by the way, made me laugh out loud on many occasions) to consider this quite an apt way of opening the door to conversations about mental health. (But we don't need to go into that here and Copeland doesn't want to ram it over your head either.)
Sam Copeland is a new force of nature for children's books, and one to watch. Hopefully the adventures of Charlie can be as successful as other books in a similar vain. Time for the Wimpy Kid and the Walliams to move to aside? I think so.