Review Blog

Nov 21 2016

The fabulous friend machine by Nick Bland

cover image

Scholastic, 2016. ISBN 9781760277659
(Age: 4-8) Highly recommended. At Fiddlesticks Farm, Popcorn the caring, considerate chicken is a fabulous friend; she supports all the farm animals in many ways. She has won the friendliest chicken award for the past three years. Popcorn enjoys wonderful conversations over a cup of tea with the hens, brightens up a muddy pig's day and finds time to read splendid stories to the milking cows. She is even the lollipop chicken, stopping the tractor to allow the ducklings' safe access across the track.
Popcorn's life changes dramatically when she discovers a small dazzling object, a little electronic device hidden in the barn straw. To her surprise when she pecks at the tiny envelope on the screen, there is an instant friendly response - 'Hello.' Dropping the green apples meant for the horse, she rushes outside with her exciting fabulous friend machine. Soon she ignores all her farmyard friends, even forgets about her personal safety, because she loves the instant responses from the machine. This is a cautionary tale,and when she invites her online buddies over to her henhouse the situation is a difficult one. Luckily, her true friends come to her rescue.
Nick Bland's farm animals and settings are painted with bold and earthy tones. The font sizes and styles change to suit the mood of the narrative and the black and white text colours stand out on the light and dark backgrounds. Popcorn's wings artistically turn into hands, just right for baking cakes, holding storybooks and especially carrying around her electronic device.
The Fabulous Friend Machine is a wonderful picture book that explores a very current topic: it introduces the dangers of communicating with strangers online. A must read story for families, for schools and preschools, a great platform to inform children about cyber safety and ethical practices.
Rhyllis Bignell

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