Author: Doreen Cronin
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: March 1st, 2011
Genre: Middle Grade
J.J. Tully is a former search-and-rescue dog who is trying to enjoy his retirement after years of performing daring missions saving lives. So he’s not terribly impressed when two chicks named Dirt and Sugar (who look like popcorn on legs), along with their chicken mom, show up demanding his help to track down their missing siblings. Driven by the promise of a cheeseburger, J.J. begins to track down clues. Is Vince the Funnel hiding something? Are there dark forces at work—or is J.J. not smelling the evidence that’s right in front of him?
I really enjoy reading Doreen Cronin's children's stories, like Click, Clack, Moo, and Dooby Dooby Moo. I've seen them in some of my university education classes, on my program placements, as well as in the day care I used to work at. The kids always seem to enjoy these books. When I realized that The Trouble with Chickens was written by the same author, I requested it right away from NetGalley.
This story of J.J. Tully is really cute and a fun adventure for kids. The animals get along in an odd way and there were many instances that made me laugh. For example, J.J. doesn't like how the chickens are named so he gives them nicknames: Millicent the mother hen becomes Moosh "because it was easier to say and seemed to annoy her", and the chicks, Little Boo and Peep become Dirt and Sugar "for no particular reason." It's funny how those two words seemed to go so well together by the end of the story.
Although J.J. seems very disinterested in the chickens' problems, he agrees to help them, and it gets him in more trouble than he would have wished. Vince the Funnel (named so, because he has a plastic cone around his neck) is not too happy about J.J. being a new addition to his country home, and plans to do something about it. It has elements of humour, mystery, adventure, and even some negative themes like betrayal. It would be a great teachable moment at the end of the book to talk about what happened to the characters, why it happened, and how students can relate it to their own lives.
The only negative this I could say is that the wording in this book might be difficult for some children, depending on their reading level. It would be a good book for children in grades 4 through 6 to start reading. I think this is a great book to have in a junior classroom, especially for students who like the mystery genre and also have an interest in animals. I know I want to have it in my future classroom.
Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for the digital ARC!
Coming up: I will blog about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Not quite a review, more of a discussion about the book and movie, and my experience with Harry Potter. Make sure to check back for it around the end of the week!!