Chicken soup for the soul. I’m sure someone said that, but I can’t remember who. We had a starring chicken here just the other day, but a hen in a wardrobe is not to be sneezed at either. Unless there is a cold involved, in which case sneezing might occur and good books are very much wanted, and much better than soup.
I have been reading Wendy Meddour’s debut A Hen in the Wardrobe, and it is true chicken soup material. I absolutely loved it! It’s short and a seemingly easy read, but not at all a simple book. It deals with important issues like where people belong, and what you do when life just doesn’t feel right.
Yes, what do you do? Ramzi’s Dad sleepwalks. That’s why he ends up looking for a non-existent hen in Ramzi’s wardrobe one night. He’s not entirely happy in England, and secretly longs for his native Algeria.
And what do you do about that? Taking professional advice, Ramzi’s family come to the conclusion they need to visit Algeria, so they do. His Dad is very happy to be home again, and Ramzi quite likes visiting. At least for some time. Until he sleepwalks and finds a sheep in the kitchen.
Not everyone can be happy all the time, but what to do when half the family wants one thing and the other half wants something else? Because there is no right or wrong. It’s a case of where we come from, and we only really come from one place, however good somewhere else is.
This story lets the reader actually ‘live’ Algeria. There is no preaching or showing, just an immediate dip into Algerian life. And you can see how people are the same everywhere, but also different.
We can never really solve the puzzle of where to live when families are mixed. There is no single right answer. But it would be a whole lot easier if countries didn’t have so many obstacles in place to prevent free and easy visiting between people who belong together.
This is a lovely tale about families, and about Algeria as well as Muslim life in England, and none of it quite like any other book I’ve read.
(Great illustrations all done by Wendy.)