How’s everyone enjoying this year’s annual Goosebumps reading? Fun fact: of the original 62 Goosebumps books, Chicken, Chicken was 53rd. It’s called Chicken, Chicken, so you can determine how R L Stine was doing in terms of ideas by this point.
Previously, Crystal and her brother Cole have had their second encounter with requisite mysterious townsperson, Vanessa. They accidentally cause her to spill her groceries, she turns them into chickens. It’s like Crime and Punishment all up in this bitch.
A smile spread over Vanessa’s black-lipsticked lips as she rasped those words at us.“Chicken chicken.”I gasped as if I’d been slapped.
That’s one possible reaction.
Suddenly the world starts spinning for Crystal and Cole, and they book it. Although Crystal does narrate, “Why did she say that?”, so at least we aren’t living in a world where people can just say “Chicken, Chicken” at each other and everyone pretty much gets it.
Reaching the safety of their kitchen, Crystal tells Cole that, in hindsight, they “should have stayed and helped Vanessa pick up her groceries”, rather than, you know, running away immediately. Cole disagrees, and starts to see the humor of the situation.
“Chicken chicken!” he rasped, shaking his finger at me.
“Stop it!” I snapped. […] “It’s just so weird,” I murmured. “Why did she say that word? Why?”Cole shrugged. “Because she’s crazy?”
They’ve behaving entirely too rationally for a book about chicken-based magicks. I never thought I’d say this, but somebody better start turning into a chicken soon.
Cole rolled his eyes. “Crystal—what could happen?”
Well, now they’re fucked.
During family dinner that evening, Crystal’s parents ask her how basketball practice went, and she vents some frustrations that she didn’t play very well, likely jeopardizing her chance at making the starting lineup, which will likely only get worse once she turns into a chicken.
The next day at school, Crystal and Cole have choir practice, which also goes badly. Even before any chicken stuff goes down.
It did sound pretty good.Until Cole began his solo.I saw him take a deep breath. He stepped forward. Waited for three beats. Opened his mouth.And sang: “BLUCK BUCK BUCK BLUUUCK BLUCK.”
Not that the chicken stuff helped. Cole continues uncontrollably making chicken noises, which for a book series with “Reader beware! You’re in for a scare!” as its tagline remains a difficult sell.
“Cole—please!” Mrs. Mellon pleaded. “Stop fooling around.” […]
“BLUCK BLUCK BUCK BUCK BUCK!” my brother clucked in a high, silly voice.I stepped away from the other girls and rushed up to him. “Cole—what is the big idea?” I cried furiously. “Why are you doing that?”“BLUCK BLUCK BUCK CLUCK BLUCK,” he replied.
The next chapter abruptly picks up with Crystal wrapping Lucy-Ann’s birthday present, because I guess that scene where her brother suddenly only communicated in chicken noises and the resulting social ramifications pretty much resolved itself.
Fortunately, Cole’s chicken-related issues have subsided (OR HAVE THEY?), but given Cole’s long history as a jokester, Crystal isn’t having any of it.
“You know, we’re all tired of your dumb jokes. Especially me. You just think you’re so funny all the time, Cole. But you’re really such a pain.” […]
“No—really, Crystal. I—I think Vanessa made me do it! I think she made me cluck like that!”
I laughed. “I’m not stupid, you know”
Cole finds himself unable to make a convincing case.
“I really had to cluck.”
But that night, Crystal hears mysterious noises…
“Bluck bluck cluck.”
Ok, that’s my fault. “Mysterious” is not the best word choice for this book.
I leaned on the window ledge. Peered down to the ground.And gasped.
Nothing down there.
-AAAAAAA oh god damn it, Goosebumps.
Crystal determines the clucking is coming from Cole’s room, which she finds perplexing, wondering “What is he trying to prove?”
The next day, Crystal goes to Lucy-Ann’s birthday party. Lucy-Ann asks Crystal what was up with her brother yesterday, and Crystal just provides, “No way I can explain my brother”, which is fair enough.
Crystal provides some more information about the small, country town they live in. Who wants to feel old?
some of my friends live over thirty miles away. When I want to call them at night, it’s a long-distance call!
I really had fun—until birthday cake time.And then the fun turned to horror.
Lucy-Ann’s mom carried out the birthday cake. Actually, she carried out two cakes
God DAMN it, Goosebumps!
We sang “Happy Birthday” [and] I suddenly realized that something was wrong.
That loud clicking sound I heard – it was coming from me!
Fun Fact: There was no previous mention of a loud clicking sound before this.
Crystal inspects her lips and finds that they’re suspiciously dry. So dry that they violate the laws of physics.
I ran my tongue over my lips. So dry.“Tcccck tcccccck.”
After producing percussive clicking noises by running a soft object over a hard object somehow, Crystal finds herself unable to chew the cake. She asks for some chapstick, and goes inside the house to get it.
Then I dove to the medicine cabinet and gazed into the mirror.It took my eyes a few seconds to adjust. But when I could finally focus on my lips—I opened my mouth in a shrill scream of horror.
AAAAAAAAAAAAA- wait, is the eyes adjusting thing because she’s turning into a chicken, or because that was the only way R L Stine could figure out how to slow down the dramatic narrative pacing?
Her symptoms are still sort of unclear. And demonstrate that it is apparently very difficult to physically describe a chicken.
Bright red, my lips poked out from my face. […] My lips were hard. They didn’t feel like skin anymore! […] Had my lips grown some sort of crust?
Crystal tells herself it’s just an allergic reaction, but can’t shake her worst fears.
“A bird beak,” I murmured in a shaky whisper. “It looks like a bird beak.”
Crystal ponders the serious ramifications of this.
Will I ever enjoy cake again?
Crystal finds herself unable to go back to the party and heads home instead, where she finds her parents and gone, but her brother at home with a horrifying discovery of his own.
“Why are you—click click—wearing that bath towel around your neck?”“I… need help,” he replied, lowering his eyes.He slowly unwrapped the blue bath towel. Then he slid it off his neck. “Look,” he insisted.I gasped.Feathers!He had white feathers poking out from his neck and shoulders.
I’m gonna be blunt. The story proceeds pretty hilariously.
“Cole—when did this happen?” I shrieked.“BLUCCCK BLUUUCK BUCCCCK,” he clucked, his eyes wide with horror.
Amazingly, Crystal and Cole haven’t quite accepted the existence of supernatural elements now present in their lives. Really, the first eight chapters of this book were all Vanessa this, Vanessa that, but once distinctly chicken-y things happen after she points at them and goes “Chicken, chicken” – which would presumably stand out – there’s no mention of the rumors of Vanessa’s supernatural powers. Crystal even lies to Cole about her own chicken-related problems. Unconvincingly.
Cole gazed up at me. “Hey—what’s up with your lips?”“Oh—I—uh…” I covered them with one hand. “Just chapped,” I said. “Very chapped.”
Crystal tries to solve Cole’s problem by pulling out the feathers, which causes him pain, and doesn’t solve their other problems. They wait for their parents to come home to ask for help, but they fall asleep before they get back, and find that their problems are much worse in the morning.
A soft breeze ruffled my feathers.Huh? Feathers?
Also, way more entertaining.
I blinked myself awake. And stared at the white feathers up and down my arms.I opened my mouth to scream. But all that came out was a choked “goggle goggle goggle.”
I pulled down the top of my nightshirt and gasped. My shoulders and arms were covered with fluffy, white and brown feathers.I brushed my hand over my lips. They had grown even harder.
I mean even if it’s for kids, horror-
[Cole] staggered into the room. White feathers bristled on his shoulders and under his chin. They had grown back.“Look at me!” I clicked.“BLUCCK BLUCCCCK,” Cole replied.
But… scary… so… chickens… can’t…
“I didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t want to believe it. But Vanessa did this to us. Vanessa is BLUUUUCCK BLUCCCK turning us into chickens.”
“I… can’t… stop the clucking!”
They pull off all the feathers again, and rush downstairs to find their parents, so they can convince them that they’re turning into chickens and need help. No, they didn’t really think through that sequence of events.
The chapter ends with proof that the moms is always the best, most DGAF character in every book we read:
“She’s turning us into chickens!” Cole called to Mom […]“It’s the truth!” I cried. “You’ve got to help us. Cole and I—BLUUUCK—we’re both turning into chickens!”“That’s good news,” Mom replied calmly “I need two more chickens for the barbecue this afternoon.”