Bitesize Daily Book Club: Charlie Changes Into a Chicken by Sam Copeland

Home learning focus

Using the book Charlie Changes Into a Chicken you will learn how to summarise information and to write creatively.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos of presenter and blogger Mehreen Baig reading extracts from the book

  • three activities


Charlie Changes Into a Chicken

Charlie McGuffin has an amazing secret – he can change into animals. The problem is, he cannot decide when it happens. It happens when he is worried about things and that gives him more things to worry about!

Watch presenter and blogger Mehreen Baig read an extract from Charlie Changes Into a Chicken.

Think about the following questions:

  • Do you think Charlie is in pain?

  • What do you think he is changing into?

Mehreen Baig reads an extract from 'Charlie Changes Into a Chicken' by Sam Copeland.

Now watch Mehreen read another extract from Charlie Changes Into a Chicken and think about the following:

  • What do you think the phrases a well-known fact and a less-known fact actually mean?

  • What does predicament mean?

  • What does Charlie count?

  • Do you think spiders really have eight bums?

Mehreen reads a further extract from 'Charlie Changes Into a Chicken'.


You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Read extract 1 and try activity 1 below.

Extract 1

The sound of his parents arguing downstairs rumbled through the house, low like thunder. Charlie closed his book. He couldn't concentrate.

Darkness had fallen outside and the street light outside Charlie's window was making uncanny shadows on his bedroom wall.

The silhouettes of the tree branches looked a little too much like log clutching witches' fingers for Charlie's liking. So, quick as a flash, he sprang out of bed and pulled his curtains together.

It was there and then that it first happened.

It began with a twitching in his eye. Charlie froze to the spot, feeling his eyelid blink manically. His eye had twitched before, when he’d been tired, but this felt different somehow. It felt like somebody had just plugged him into a wall socket. The twitching spread to his other eye, and both eyes were blinking and twitching.

A feeling burst through the whole of his body, like he’d just been shot through an electrical wire, like he was the electricity.

Every part of his body fizzed and hummed. The fizzing and humming became stronger, until he felt like he was on fire, but a fire inside of a never-ending tube, squeezed and vibrating.

His skin felt extraordinary. Alive. He looked at his arm and, with some considerable alarm, saw that hair was sprouting out of every part of his skin.

Weirdly the room was growing larger too.

But no, Charlie realized, the room wasn’t growing larger – it was him who was shrinking!

Charlie McGuffin seems like a normal school boy but, like we all do, he has his worries. Except something strange happens to Charlie at random times for no apparent reason: he changes into animals. Charlie feels quite lonely because at first, no one else seems to believe him that this is going on, let alone tries to understand why. Published by Puffin.

Activity 1

  1. Read extract 1 again, in which the writer explains in great detail how Charlie begins to change.

  2. Retell what happens to Charlie in five steps.

You might want to point to, jot down or underline key phrases to help you to sequence the events.

Use time adverbials to support you when you are retelling his change.

Examples of adverbials include:

  • first

  • next

  • then

  • after that

  • finally

Top tip!

You can do this activity verbally (by speaking) or you could write it down.

Try to remember as much detail as you can about the event.

Extract 2

He reached up with one of his new, long, spindly black legs and carefully counted his eyes. There were eight.

Eight legs? Eight eyes? Veeery suspicious.

So Charlie looked at all the suspicious evidence and added small + hairy + eight spindly black legs + eight eyes together and got spider as the answer because it is a well-known fact that spiders are hairy and have eight legs and eight eyes. It’s a less-known fact that spiders also have eight bums, which is both disgusting and messy and also costs spiders loads of money in toilet roll.

Charlie sat on the floor and considered his predicament. He had turned into a spider and he had no idea how to spider. He’d had lots of practice being a boy, but zero practice spidering. After a short while just sitting there being a spider, Charlie came up with a plan. The plan had two simple steps. They were:

Step 1: PANIC!!!

Step 2: Shout to his mum to come and help.

Activity 2

In extract 2, the writer Sam Copeland uses lots of description in his writing which helps the reader to imagine the scene.

Read some of the examples from the second extract in the table below and explain how they help you to visualise and imagine what is happening.

You can either create a table of your answers or talk about your responses.

Example from the extractHow this helps the reader to visualise
He reached up with one of his new, long, spindly black legs and carefully counted his eyes.
Eight legs? Eight eyes? Veeery suspicious.
Charlie sat on the floor and considered his predicament.
He’d had lots of practice being a boy, but zero practice spidering.
Step 1: PANIC!!!

Activity 3

Sam Copeland chooses language that aims to make his readers laugh. See if you can do the same.

  1. Read both extracts again and think about how small Charlie is now as a spider.

  2. Imagine that you have changed into something small. It may be an animal, a bird, something in the water or whatever you want to be.

What would you do if you were small?

Think about the benefits of being really tiny. What could you do?

  1. Write a list of five advantages of being really small.

Call the list ‘The Top 5 benefits of being a .....................................’.

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