Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Trouble with Chickens

Cronin, Doreen. 2011. The Trouble with Chickens. New York: Harper Collins.

Doreen Cronin's latest creation is J.J. Tully, a retired search and rescue dog.  J.J. should be enjoying his retirement years in the country, but he isn't - all because of that crazy chicken.

J.J. tells most of the story, 
I could track the six-day-old scent of a lost hiker and pull a fat guy out from under a pile of rubble, but I couldn't get that crazy chicken out of my yard.  Her name was Millicent.  I called her Moosh, just because it was easier to say and seemed to annoy her.  She had two little puffy chicks with her.  She called them Little Boo and Peep. I called them Dirt and Sugar, ...
J.J.'s a tough customer and Moosh knows it.  That's why she's come to him for help.  Her peeps, Poppy and Sweetie, are missing and she's just received a mysterious note suggesting a rendezvous. J.J.'s accustomed to trouble, but this chicken trouble is a new wrinkle.  Moosh needs help, and not just the sniffing kind. It looks as if it may be an "inside" job. Vince the Funnel may be involved. Vince, a small, brown mutt with a funnel around his neck,
he looked like a cross between a dachshund and a lamp.
Sure, J.J. takes the case, but he's not making any guarantees.

Smartly written in a manner reminiscent of Bruce Hale's Chet Gecko Private Eye series, and paying homage to famed gumshoes, Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, The Trouble with Chickens features some great lines,
She reminded me of a three-inch splinter I'd had once - it bothered me, and I was in a much better mood when it was gone.
a quirky set of characters (drawn to humorously quirky perfection by Kevin Cornell), and a surprisingly detailed plot.  Call it "chapter book noir", this may easily be the first in a sucessful series.

SLJ suggests this book for grades 2-4, however, very young readers may have difficulty with plot twists and unannounced changes in narration (Vince the Funnel is the voice of several chapters).  Best for ages 9-12.

(Advance Reader's Edition supplied by LibraryThing.  Final artwork may have changed.)
Look for Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type in one of the illustrations.

Preview the audiobook!

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