THE TROUBLE WITH CHICKENS

From the J.J. Tully Mysteries series , Vol. 1

Popular farmyard chronicler Cronin (Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, illustrated by Betsy Lewin, 2000, etc.) makes the jump to middle-grade fiction in this faux–hard-boiled mystery featuring talking animals. Her deadpan humor is much in evidence as she describes the circumstances under which retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully undertakes the case of the missing chick. Puns abound, and J.J. is definitely not quite as clever as he believes himself to be, allowing readers to gently laugh at as well as with him. Sophisticated vocabulary and a complicated plot suggest the older range of readers as the most likely audience, but frequent illustrations and a relatively large font should make the story accessible to the younger end as well. Cornell’s black-and-white drawings extend both the humor and the action. In some pictures J.J. is slightly reminiscent of Scooby-Doo, another canine sleuth, while in others he is both distinctive and dogged in his determination to solve the puzzle. The chickens, mother and four chicks, are seriously silly looking and utterly adorable, which suits their surprisingly rounded characters just right.  Finding out how “Vince the Funnel” fits in, whether J.J. is being double-crossed by his client and how the climactic rescue will be resolved should keep readers engaged while Cronin’s constant word-play will keep them giggling. Fast and funny. (Comic mystery. 8-11)

Pub Date: March 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-06-121532-2

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Feb. 17, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2011

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A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders.

TIGER BOY

When a Bengali boy finds and saves a tiger cub from a man who wants to sell her on the black market, he realizes that the schoolwork he resents could lead to a career protecting his beloved Sunderbans island home.

When the not-yet-weaned cub escapes from a nearby reserve, Neel and many of his neighbors join the search. But some are in the pay of greedy Gupta, a shady entrepreneur who’s recently settled in their community. Even Neel’s father is tempted by Gupta’s money, although he knows that Gupta doesn’t plan to take the cub back to the refuge. Neel and his sister use the boy’s extensive knowledge of the island’s swampy interior to find the cub’s hiding place and lure it out so it can be returned to its mother. The Kolkota-born author visited the remote Sunderbans in the course of her research. She lovingly depicts this beautiful tropical forest in the context of Neel’s efforts to find the cub and his reluctance to leave his familiar world. While the conflicts resolve a bit too easily, the sense of place is strong and the tiger cub’s rescue very satisfying. Pastel illustrations will help readers envision the story.

A multicultural title with obvious appeal for animal-loving middle graders. (author's note, organizations, glossary) (Fiction. 8-11)

Pub Date: April 14, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-58089-660-3

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Charlesbridge

Review Posted Online: Jan. 10, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2015

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A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves.

SCAREDY CAT

Two shelter cats take on a mysterious puss with weird powers who is terrorizing the feline community.

Hardly have timorous (and aptly named) Poop and her sophisticated buddy, Pasha, been brought home by their new “human beans” for a two-week trial than they are accosted by fiery-eyed Scaredy Cat, utterly trashing the kitchen with a click of his claws and, hissing that he’s in charge of the neighborhood, threatening that if they don’t act like proper cats—disdaining ordinary cat food and any summons (they are not dogs, after all), clawing the furniture instead of the scratching post, and showing like “cattitude”—it’ll be back to the shelter for them. Will Poop and Pasha prove to be fraidycats or flee to the cowed clowder of homeless cats hiding from the bully in the nearby woods? Nope, they are made of sterner stuff and resolutely set out to enlist feline allies in a “quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of purrs!” Cast into a gazillion very short chapters related by furry narrators Poop and Pasha, who are helpfully depicted in portrait vignettes by Herzog at each chapter’s head, the ensuing adventures test the defiant kitties’ courage (and, in some cases, attention spans) on the way to a spooky but poignant climax set, appropriately enough as it happens, in a pet graveyard.

A-mew-sing fare for readers who sometimes feel like fraidycats themselves. (Adventure. 9-11)

Pub Date: March 15, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-316-49443-4

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Jimmy Patterson/Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: March 3, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2021

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