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)