This week, we’re taking a look at the leader of the (in)famous girl gang: Charlie of The Wild Chicks!
Cornelia began writing about Charlie and the rest of the Wild Chicks—Freya, Melanie, and Trudie—after her book editor asked her to write a different kind of story, one without fairies, dragons, and magic. And Charlie’s gang gave her plenty to write about!
When the series begins, Charlie’s a preteen living in the German countryside of the seventies/eighties, and she has a knack for finding adventure—and convincing others to join along! Without much patience for classes with Ms. Rose or school in general, she’s more likely to be daydreaming about exploring with the Wild Chicks than paying attention to what’s on the board.
Charlie has red hair, a fiery temper to go with it, and can at times get in arguments with her best friend, Freya. Before long, though, the two are sure to make up. It’s Freya who helps Charlie get the Wild Chicks started by inviting Melanie and Trudie, and together they form the original Wild Chicks (a fifth girl, Wilma, joins the group in Book 2).
Curious, smart, and impatient, Charlie’s not against boys—she just doesn’t have time for them and their antics. The girls end up in a sometimes good-natured, sometimes-cross feud with a group of boys who call themselves The Pygmies, though their rivalry/friendship evolves with the series.
Charlie often stays with her grandmother while her mum, a taxi driver, is at work, but Gradma Stalberg is always putting her to work in the garden, or cleaning out the chicken coop, and leaving to-do lists when she’s away. In spite of the chores and Charlie’s hard exterior, she has a soft spot for the chickens, giving them all names and keeping Isolde as a particular favorite. In some ways, the chickens helped the girl gang first get together—they’re first ‘adventure’ began with cleaning out the chicken coop! And—Charlie’s idea, of course—they all wear necklaces with a single chicken feather as a memento of their group.
While the Chicks are a democracy (compared to the Pygmies, who’s leader Fred bosses the other boys around), Charlie is clearly the leader of the gang, most likely to hatch schemes or plans, but her friends also seem to enjoy it—and, at any rate, together they can get into more adventures!
Next week, we’ll meet Freya, Charlie’s best friend!