Young Bertie is not expecting much when he’s dropped off by Mum to stay with his uncle Brian on Long Bottom Farm for the summer. But this is a Jenny Pearson story, and readers familiar with her work know to expect the unexpected. The first surprise for Bertie is an encounter with a talking chicken, the second that this is no ordinary talking chicken, this chicken is an alien in disguise from the planet Nurgle-7, sent to Earth to find its most valuable resource. Furthermore, unless the chicken – call me Nugget he says to Bertie – returns with Earth’s most valuable resource by the end of the day, Earth will be exterminated. It’s a challenge Bertie has to meet. Rejecting Uncle Brian’s suggestions, which are very farm-based, and those of the farm hands almost-identical Perry and Bernard (ditto), Bertie and Nugget fire up the farm computer which in turn sends them out in search of data – ultra-valuable. Here there are more surprises in store. In their efforts to identify the really important stuff, Bertie learns that his big strong uncle is scared of being lonely, and discovers some unexpected truths about himself, while his attempts to gather date on the Nurgles turns everything upside down.
Jenny Pearson manages once again to craft a story that is simultaneously funny and sensitive, filled with moments that will have readers laughing aloud and others that will make them stop and think. Her timing is superb and her understanding of the way children think and speak second to none. This is her first book for Barrington Stoke and as such, accessible to readers of all abilities.