Most of the more challenging words are repeated many times as the chickens recount the story for each other and Tail, making...

THE CHICKEN SQUAD

THE FIRST MISADVENTURE

From the Chicken Squad series , Vol. 1

In this delightful spinoff of the J.J. Tully series, this time the chickens are in charge—sort of.

When “dumb squirrel” Tail is terrified by something big and scary in the yard, the Chicken Squad (Dirt, Sugar, Poppy and Sweetie) is on the case. Not only do they work to build Tail’s pitiful vocabulary, these chickens will make readers laugh while doing it. Soon, Tail’s description goes from “big and scary” to “huge and terrifying,” and following a bonk to the head, he describes the thing in the yard as “a big, shiny circle…a dark shade of green…it made a weird hissing and popping noise…it interrupted the atmosphere.” Cronin keeps the mystery moving right along, allowing it to build at just the right pace for new readers to guess along with the silly chickens. Of course, it takes J.J. Tully, the retired search-and-rescue hound, to figure it out and save the day. Just don’t tell the Chicken Squad. Each page turn rewards readers with a humorous illustration that explains and extends the text—and helps children figure out some of the more difficult words from picture clues.

Most of the more challenging words are repeated many times as the chickens recount the story for each other and Tail, making this a great first chapter book. (Comic mystery. 6-9)

Pub Date: April 8, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4424-9676-7

Page Count: 112

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2014

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A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends

WAITING IS NOT EASY!

From the Elephant & Piggie series

Gerald the elephant learns a truth familiar to every preschooler—heck, every human: “Waiting is not easy!”

When Piggie cartwheels up to Gerald announcing that she has a surprise for him, Gerald is less than pleased to learn that the “surprise is a surprise.” Gerald pumps Piggie for information (it’s big, it’s pretty, and they can share it), but Piggie holds fast on this basic principle: Gerald will have to wait. Gerald lets out an almighty “GROAN!” Variations on this basic exchange occur throughout the day; Gerald pleads, Piggie insists they must wait; Gerald groans. As the day turns to twilight (signaled by the backgrounds that darken from mauve to gray to charcoal), Gerald gets grumpy. “WE HAVE WASTED THE WHOLE DAY!…And for WHAT!?” Piggie then gestures up to the Milky Way, which an awed Gerald acknowledges “was worth the wait.” Willems relies even more than usual on the slightest of changes in posture, layout and typography, as two waiting figures can’t help but be pretty static. At one point, Piggie assumes the lotus position, infuriating Gerald. Most amusingly, Gerald’s elephantine groans assume weighty physicality in spread-filling speech bubbles that knock Piggie to the ground. And the spectacular, photo-collaged images of the Milky Way that dwarf the two friends makes it clear that it was indeed worth the wait.

A lesson that never grows old, enacted with verve by two favorite friends . (Early reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4231-9957-1

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Hyperion

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15, 2014

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Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination.

TOO MANY CARROTS

When Rabbit’s unbridled mania for collecting carrots leaves him unable to sleep in his cozy burrow, other animals offer to put him up.

But to Rabbit, their homes are just more storage space for carrots: Tortoise’s overstuffed shell cracks open; the branch breaks beneath Bird’s nest; Squirrel’s tree trunk topples over; and Beaver’s bulging lodge collapses at the first rainstorm. Impelled by guilt and the epiphany that “carrots weren’t for collecting—they were for SHARING!” Rabbit invites his newly homeless friends into his intact, and inexplicably now-roomy, burrow for a crunchy banquet. This could be read (with some effort) as a lightly humorous fable with a happy ending, and Hudson’s depictions of carrot-strewn natural scenes, of Rabbit as a plush bunny, and of the other animals as, at worst, mildly out of sorts support that take. Still, the insistent way Rabbit keeps forcing himself on his friends and the magnitude of the successive disasters may leave even less-reflective readers disturbed. Moreover, as Rabbit is never seen actually eating a carrot, his stockpiling looks a lot like the sort of compulsive hoarding that, in humans, is regarded as a mental illness.

Superficially appealing; much less so upon closer examination. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 11, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-62370-638-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Capstone Young Readers

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015

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