The Fabulous Friend Machine

When a cell phone appears on Fiddlesticks Farm, Popcorn (the friendliest chicken in the barnyard) forgets about her friends and puts herself in danger when she becomes preoccupied with the flashing, beeping device. She calls it a fabulous friend machine but it’s not.

The messages she receives on it are not from “new friends”. They are from wolves who want to eat her; not the double-fudge chocolate cake she prepared for them. But her real friends watch out for her and chase away the wolves before they see them get too close to her. The farm animals act as a team to help their friend; they didn’t forgot her.

The chickens she used to have tea with help the dog she befriended scare away the wolves with a surprise maneuver in her chicken coop.  The cow she used to tell stories to during milking time acts as transportation to and from the coop. After the wolves are scared away from the farm, Popcorn reenacts the whole scenario with a puppet show in which her true friends have starring roles.

This is a precautionary tale about how cell phones can sabotage our time. Popcorn quickly becomes so addicted to sending and receiving messages that she changes her sleep habits and how she spends her day. She no longer makes time for the activities she used to enjoy with her friends and she is oblivious to how she has abandoned them.

The illustrations, which are humourous, yet touching, provide several examples of how her friends stay loyal to her though. The dog sleeps at the bottom of the stairs leading up to her chicken coop and they all watch her with concern in their eyes as she walks past them without acknowledging them. Popcorn even gives up dusting her welcome mat and delivering apples to the horses.

Bland, who is the creator of the popular picture books about a very cranky and itchy bear, has written a new story that will appeal to parents, teachers, and school-age children.

To win a copy of this new book email me ([email protected]) a picture of something you took with your phone.