Cover image for Charlie is a chicken
Charlie is a chicken
Smith, Jane Denitz.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : HarperCollins, [1998]

Physical Description:
168 pages ; 22 cm
When she falls under the influence of the boy-hating, snobbish Jessica, fourth grader Maddie is manipulated into turning on her best friend Charlie and joins Jessica in sending him spiteful anonymous notes in school.
Reading Level:
790 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.8 5.0 42803.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.2 7 Quiz: 13204 Guided reading level: P.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A bad joke?

Charlie Siegel has a pretty normal life. Until the notes start. Charlie is a chicken. Charlie smells. At first he thinks they are a joke. After all, why would anybody be mean to him? But the notes keep coming and Charlie begins to think that they might be true. He wants to ask his best friend, Maddie, about it. But lately she's been more interested in talking to the popular girls than in hanging around him. Suddenly Charlie's world seems to be spinning out of control. Why is this happening to him? And will his life ever be normal again?

Charlie Siegal is leading a pretty normal fifth-grade life until the day the mysterious notes start to appear. The notes are stupid, mean, and mostly untrue, but Charlie cant help being hurt by them. Somebody is going to a lot of trouble to make his life miserable. And its working. Nothing is the same for Charlie, not even Maddie, his best friend for as long as he can remember. Suddenly Maddie has become as unrecognizable as the handwriting on the notes hes been getting. Shes spending more and more of her time with horrible Jessica McGuire, a girl they used to ignore. And shes staying away from Charlie every chance she gets. Does Maddie have something to hide?In her second novel for young readers, Jane Denitz Smith has created a heartfelt story about what it means to test the limits of friendshipand what it takes to make everything right again.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Gr. 3^-5 . Although their personalities are very different (Maddie is a rough-and-tumble tomboy, and Charlie carefully considers every move), these two fourth-graders have been best friends forever. Then, the most popular girl in their class decides she wants to be friends with Maddie--on the condition that Maddie promise to help in a secret campaign of cruel notes directed against Charlie. For a while, Maddie is impressed by Jessica's glamour, despite her realization that she is being used. Eventually, Maddie breaks away, but not before Charlie learns that Maddie has been the cause of his misery. Smith has a keen ear for dialogue and a good grasp of the cruel teasing that often occurs in middle grades. Charlie's character is the most developed in the story; in addition to dealing with the isolation caused by the girls' cruelty, he manages to overcome his fear of heights and to assert himself against Maddie's dominance. Jessica's satisfying comeuppance should be popular with the victims of bullies, too. --Kay Weisman

School Library Journal Review

Gr 3-5-Maddie finds herself courted by Jessica, the popular, spoiled, sought after social leader of the fifth grade. Jessica's friendship is an expensive commodity. Maddie must follow orders and, worst of all, humiliate her best friend, Charlie, by writing mean notes and otherwise ignoring him. She is willing to pay the price and Charlie finds himself ostracized and ridiculed. As the cruelty in the notes escalates, he withdraws into himself and becomes uncommunicative. Maddie is tormented by guilt but cannot escape the lure of popularity. The theme of friends growing apart as they mature is presented from both sides and the character development of both Charlie and Maddie is well done. Charlie, who is a wimp at the start of the book, will have readers rooting for him as he works hard to prevail and cheering for him as he emerges as a self-confidant youngster. However, the secondary characters and the adults are flat and stereotyped. Although not very exciting, the story progresses steadily and would be comfortable, satisfying reading for middle graders.-Marlene Gawron, Orange County Library, Orlando, FL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.