CHICKEN FRIEND was shortlisted for the Leicester Primary Books Award and the Lancashire Fantastic Books Award. It’s very popular with 8-11-year-olds and is my most successful book with libraries. Unfortunately, Walker Books have not reprinted it.
What is it about? It’s a funny, moving novel about chickens, friends and a crazy family. Becca (she’s the sensible one), her mother (she’s the mad one), her father (he’s the one who writes seriously tacky children’s TV programmes and probably has lentil soup on his shirt), her four-year-old twin brothers (they’re the gross ones) and two girls who live nearby and think they’re the coolest but aren’t. It takes a while before Becca realises that her crazy family are the only ones who really care, not Jazz and Mel. But first, disaster strikes. Oh, and there are the chickens – they’re the only ones who will listen to anything Becca says. But there’s also a chicken-eating python called Saddam, which belongs to Mel’s spotty, alcoholic older brother. Now that spells serious trouble.
What about the title? Well, the book is about friends – bad ones and good ones. Jazz and Mel are definitely bad. But cool and trendy. Which is how Becca would like to be. I forgot to mention Stella. Stella is Becca’s old friend, before she moved house to the country. Stella is a great friend, but you never meet her. Maybe you will in a sequel – is my editor reading this? Anyway, Becca needs friends, especially as she doesn’t go to school. Her parents don’t like schools – too many rules and they don’t like rules, except the ones they make themselves, of course. But she makes friends with a chicken, as you do when you have no choice. And chickens are good listeners. She calls the chicken Stella.
The School Librarian magazine, Donald Telford: “This is a lively, modern story, full of humour and absolutely on the right wavelength for girls from 11 plus. Their teachers will enjoy it too. All teenage essentials are featured, emails from best friend, cool clothes, peer approval and the desirability of permanent contact with a trendy mobile phone.”
The Times Educational Supplement, Michael Thorn: “Nicola Morgan’s Chicken Friend makes a powerful case for remaining true to oneself. The story of a girl who has moved out of London to the West Country with her eccentric home-schooling parents, it demonstrates the dangers inherent in changing styles and demeanour to fit.”
The Red House Magazine, young reader called William Morris: “I thought this book was brilliant. …This book has loads of fun, wacky and extremely unusual characters. Although this book is funny, it is also quite sad, but still is a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to everybody!”
The Guardian: “This is Morgan’s fourth novel, for a younger readership than its predecessors. Each is utterly different from the other, but each stretches the reader in different ways. Chicken Friend is her most accessible, but it retains the emotional depth of Morgan’s previous books, urging the reader to reflect their own experiences against those of the narrator.”
Sunday Times: “Jacqueline Wilson fans will find plenty to enjoy in Chicken Friend (Nick Sharratt has even drawn the cover!) as troubled Becca deals with absent friends, new surroundings and peer pressure.”
School Library Journal, Steven Engelfried (US): “…Becca narrates the disastrous events of the previous week with invigorating humour. … Her voice is extremely fresh and engaging. With a meandering pace and various asides, it seems to be exactly how this character would tell the story, and her self-deprecating attitude is both funny and touching. At the same time, she keeps several key bits of knowledge from the readers until they become necessary for the story’s context … The girl is believable and likeable as both character and narrator, which turns an apparently simple story into one that is funny, insightful, and moving.”
The Horn Book: “….it’s all neatly intertwined, including the last wholesome twist. Good home truths, appealingly sweetened with humour.”