I think we all have an understanding that this post is dedicated to Bellomy, who is proof that persistence makes all your dreams come true. Well, if those dreams include reading Chicken, Chicken.
Chicken, Chicken Chapter 1:
We begin with a vivid description of chickens, which really sets the tone for a scary tale:
I hate chickens.
They are filthy creatures, and they smell like… like… chickens.
I hadn’t thought of it that way before, but I guess this narrator has a point.
Crystal, our narrator, despairs over the fact that she has been tasked with feeding the family chickens. I don’t think you can fully grasp how much this child hates chickens without reading the full text, but my job is to make you understand.
I carry the seed bucket out to the backyard, and they come scurrying over, clucking and squawking and flapping their greasy wings. I hate the way they brush up against my legs as they peck the seeds off the ground. Their feathers are so rough and scratchy.
Crystal reflects on how she and her younger brother, Cole, confronted their mother about why they have chickens. In response to her horrible children’s probing, Mom shared a lovely story about how she and their father always wanted to raise chickens, and now that the family lives on a farm, it seemed like a natural course of action.
This means Crystal is stuck tending to what I think she views as God’s biggest mistake from the way she describes chickens.
Abruptly, Crystal decides to go find Cole because she’s meant to be keeping an eye on him, and she’s sure he’s up to no good. I’m going to assume this will somehow relate to chickens, but I’m not sure how we’re gonna get there.
A kindly shop owner in town informs Crystal that his brother and some friends are by Pullman’s pond. Upon finding them, Crystal discovers they intend to prunk a woman named Vanessa. Here’s some backstory on Vanessa that may give us some foreshadowing into how this all ties together with chickens:
Vanessa s like someone from a horror movie. She is kind of pretty, with long, straight black hair and a pale, white face. She dresses all in black. She wears black lipstick and black fingernail polish.Vanessa is a mystery woman. No one knows if she’s young or old.She keeps to herself. I’ve hardly ever seen her in town. She lives in her old farmhouse right outside of town with her black cat.Naturally, everyone says she is some kind of sorceress.
I don’t know how there’s any other conclusion people could come to. Despite the “frightening” stories floating around town about what Vanessa has done to children (why has this woman not been arrested or at least thoroughly questioned), Cole and friends decide that they’re still gonna go ahead and put water in Vanessa’s mailbox. Ug, children.
Hark, a voice of reason speaks out:
“Don’t do it,” Anthony suddenly chimed in.We all turned to Anthony. He’s short and chubby and has a round face and very short black hair. He wears red-framed glasses that are always slipping down his little pug nose.“Don’t do it,” Anthony repeated.“Why n-not?” Franny stammered.“Didn’t you hear what happened when Vanessa caught Tommy Pottridge?” Anthony asked in a hushed whisper. “Didn’t you hear what she did to him?”“No!” Franny and Jeremy declared together.I felt a tremble of fear run down my back. “What did Vanessa do to Tommy?” I demanded.
Bum bum bummmm.
Chicken, Chicken Chapter 2:
These Goosebumps‘s chapter cliffhangers are usually resolved in very unsatisfying ways, so I’m assuming Vanessa chastised Tommy for his behaviour.
“She caught him sneaking up to her house,” Anthony reported. “She did some kind of magic spell on him. She made his head blow up like a balloon.”
Okay, so maybe I was wrong, but you have to admit his punishment could have been a lot worse even in a children’s book.
There are some holes in this story that Anthony needs to address:
Anthony clamped a hand over Cole’s mouth. “It’s true!” he insisted. “Vanessa gave him a big, soft, spongy head. That’s why we don’t see Tommy around anymore!”
“But the Pottridges moved away!” Franny cried.
“That’s why they moved,” Anthony replied. “Because of Tommy’s head.”
Thanks for being so candid, Anthony. Your story checks out; these events aren’t really open to further interpretation.
Despite these unambiguous warnings, the kids move forward with their stupid prank and are immediately caught by Vanessa. For some reason it’s Crystal and Cole who are the subjects of her “furious stare.” BUT WHY??!? They’re not the ones at fault here. Although, Cole did kind cajole his friends into doing it. This could be up for some really intense debates in the comments about who is to blame and what kind of punishment is just.
Chicken, Chicken Chapter 3:
This brief chapter is dedicated to fleeing the scene of the unforgivable crime. Back at Crystal’s house, she tries to warn everyone that they might not be in the clear just yet. Cole’s friend Jeremy suggests they just tell Vanessa they weren’t the ones who pranked her, but Cole calls him a snitch.
Crystal weighs in:
“Maybe she won’t give us a chance to explain,” I said. “Maybe she’ll just do something horrible to us.”
I started to the kitchen. “You guys want something to drink?”
I didn’t hear their replies.
I pulled open the fridge and took out a bottle of iced tea.
A second later, I opened my mouth in a loud scream of pain.
Oh my lord, these cliffhangers!
Chicken, Chicken Chapter 4:
She opens the fridge to find CHICKEN CHICKEN. Not really, though.
“The fridge door,” I managed to choke out. “I—slammed it on my hand.”
Oh. Cole, full of mirth, suggests that it was Vanessa who in fact slammed Crystal’s hand in the door. Hats off to Vanessa if she possessed this very specific kind of power, it’s pretty impressive.
“Vanessa cursed you,” Anthony said, picking up where Cole had left off. “Now your hand will probably swell up to the size of a cantaloupe.”
“And it will get soft and squishy like Tommy’s head,” Cole added gleefully. “Soft and squishy—like your brain!”
Unlike Crystal, this punk deserves everything he gets.
Cole and Anthony raised their hands in front of them and began moving them back and forth, as if casting spells on me. “You are a sponge head!” Cole cried, lowering his voice, trying to sound like a real sorcerer. “You will mop up the dinner dishes with your head!”
Knock it off. Just turn into a fucking chicken already.
Parents come home and tell Cole to go round up some of the chickens that are running around. Crystal makes a crap joke about how this job suits Cole because he looks like a rooster. For some reason everyone laughs at this like it’s not stupid! I can’t even. I know we’re on book #53 here, but let’s at least try not make this so terrible.
A few seconds later, I could hear a lot of clucking and squawking back there. And I could hear the boys shouting and complaining.
Did you ever try to herd chickens?
It isn’t easy.
No. Have you guys ever tried to herd chickens? Please share your stories chicken herding in the comments section.
That night, Crystal can’t sleep. Suddenly Vanessa is creeping around her room! Wearing a veil for some reason!
Chicken, Chicken Chapter 5:
Crystal has a lot of really reasonable questions:
How did she get in the house?
What is she going to do to me?
Pulling the veil from Vanessa’s face reveals ~~~~~~
You prick. Stop with the pranks. It’s only going to get you into trouble.
Cole makes jokes about how Crystal is a spongehead. These spongehead jokes just never go out of style.
The next morning, Crystal and her mom chat about Crystal’s basketball practice and a friend’s upcoming birthday party…and that’s when Cole comes downstairs with sores all over his face! He claims Vanessa, but I suspect prank.
Chicken, Chicken Chapter 6:
TURNS OUT IT’S JUST RED MARKER PEN. Oh, Cole. No one is gonna trust you when Vanessa inevitably enacts her much-deserved revenge.
Chicken, Chicken Chapter 7:
Cole and Anthony follow Crystal around for some reason while she’s out running errands for her friend’s birthday party. They play some stupid egg game.
This is one of their games that drives me crazy. They throw an egg back and forth, back and forth as they walk. Each time they throw it, they stand a little farther apart from each other.
The idea is to see how far they can toss the egg without breaking it.
The answer usually is: not too far.
The boys get into a fight when Cole throws the egg and it breaks on Anthony’s head. Boyyyyys!
Vanessa shows up. Please, please put an end to these horrid children, Vanessa. All the children bump into her and cause her to drop all her groceries. This poor woman.
I turned to Vanessa and nearly gasped when I saw the look of fury on her cold, pale face.
As her eyes locked on mine, I felt as if I’d been stabbed—by an icicle.
A shiver of fear made me take a step back. I grabbed Cole’s arm. I started to pull him away.
But Vanessa stepped forward, her long black dress sweeping along the sidewalk. She pointed to Cole with a slender finger tipped in black nail polish. Then she pointed at me.
“Chicken chicken,” she whispered.
Best. Cliffhanger. Ever.