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The Trouble with Chickens: A J.J. Tully Mystery (J. J. Tully Mysteries) Hardcover – March 1, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 2-4-With its sharp wit and suspenseful mystery, Cronin's foray into the crowded chapter-book field is a crowd pleaser. Retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully is enjoying the simple life on a farm when his world is turned upside down by an annoying hen, Moosh, and her two equally obnoxious chicks, Dirt and Sugar, who hound him to help locate Poppy and Sweetie. They fear that the missing chicks have been kidnapped and are being held hostage inside the house where ferocious Vince the Funnel-an aptly named canine-lives. When Moosh appears with a note stating it "behooves" the chickens to "rendezvous" to get back her peeps, J.J. muses about the likelihood of birdbrains with sophisticated vocabulary, and he must sniff out the true offenders. Cronin's tongue-in-cheek humor spills forward as the detective story unfolds, while the whodunit will keep readers guessing until the ending. Cornell's black-and-white cartoon illustrations add to the hilarity with bespectacled Sugar, cone-headed Vince the Funnel, and J.J. Tully's mismatched floppy ears. Teachers will embrace the story as a great read-aloud, while reluctant and nonreluctant readers will savor this quick read of a mystery and eagerly await the next case for J.J. Tully to crack.-Michele Shaw, Quail Run Elementary School, San Ramon, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

J. J. Tully, a former search-and-rescue dog, is supposed to be resting and relaxing after a noble career. But he is hardly settled into his new home before a mama chick named Mildred wants him to find two of her brood that have gone missing. Tully�s willing to take on the case for a hamburger, but a ransom note soon complicates things, and a house dog, Vince the Funnel (for the contraption wrapped around his head), is out to make sure that he is not the canine going to the vet to get tubes in his ears. The plot is a bit convoluted, and when the narrator changes in the middle of the book, even experienced readers might be confused. But the noirlike detective Tully and the funny chickens running around, well, like chickens make appealing characters, especially as drawn by Cornell, who knows how to get TV cartoon�style humor out of the action. Readers can expect to see more of Tully at work in future installments of this new series. Grades 3-5. --Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 6 - 10 years
  • Grade Level: 1 - 5
  • Lexile Measure: 570L (What's this?)
  • Series: J. J. Tully Mysteries
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061215325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061215322
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (116 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #250,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By P. Kingsriter on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
For a book written at about a 2nd - 3rd grade reading level, I am very, VERY impressed. The story is narrated by J.J. Tully, a former search-and-rescue dog seeking some action in a boring retirement. He's a likable pooch that charmingly and humorously speaks in distinctively clipped 1940's overcoat-wearing, crusty, hardboiled, flatfoot speech. You halfway expect him to break into, "It was a dark and stormy night..." at any moment. He's like a retired gumshoe that gets wrapped up in a mystery with a couple of overeager chicks and their neurotic hen (er, mom). It's a funny set up that author Doreen Cronin gleefully runs with.

The story is simple, as is the language, easily interpreted and enjoyed by a 2nd grader I know. The chapters are bite-sized episodes between 2 - 4 pages, keeping the action galloping along while giving the young reader manageable chunks of material. There are frequent and genuinely funny descriptions (mostly observations by J.J.) that will be enjoyed as much if not more by the adults reading along. The characters are strong and the dialogue is surprisingly sharp.

As a professor of mine once said, "Good children's literature is GOOD LITERATURE." And "The Trouble with Chickens" is good literature that just happens to be written in simple english. This book comes highly recommended and I eagerly anticipate the next J.J. Tully mystery.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Gina Hott on October 4, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
I loved this book. It was one of those books that you pick up because you finally have kids and can now read it without explaining why you think it's humorous. I laughed the whole way through the book. The kids 7-14 enjoyed it. The story wasn't one to write about it's a typical kids mystery but the way it was written, well, let me say, if you have a dry sense of humor you'll love it. If you prefer slapstick probably not so much.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jared Castle VINE VOICE on March 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Children's noir might sound crazy but this book from Doreen Cronin and Kevin Cornell is a nifty little mystery great for reading out loud.

To set the mood, I listened to Robert Mitchum's Philip Marlowe from Farewell My Lovely and adapted his gravelly delivery for the voice of J.J. Tully, the retired search and rescue dog. J.J. not only is the story's protagonist but also the laconic narrator through all but two of the 23 chapters.

So, who narrates the other two chapters? Well, that would be Vince the Funnel, the villainous inside dog, described as "a cross between a dachshund and a lamp." For Vince, I initially considered a Peter Lorre impersonation but settled on Orson Welles' Harry Lime from The Third Man.

With the narrative voices locked down, I added one more trick to keep my sons (ages 8 and 6) engaged in the story. We began each chapter with our own film noir soundtrack: da-dum-dum-ta-da-da-dum-dum with a cool finger snap for a beat with a single hi-hat.

We read the book over three nights as the boys' bedtime reading. My sons focused mostly on Cornell's illustrations during the first night. My eldest son rolled his eyes as I led the film noir soundtrack into each new chapter. The noir style drew them in slowly. However, the night ended with a highlight, a silhouette of Vince the Funnel at the end of chapter eight.

I had to hide the book for the second night, so my sons wouldn't read ahead before I got home from work. The eye rolling stopped. I had two enthusiastic finger snappers at the start of each chapter. They were critics, too.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By TE_MA on March 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I once had the joy of reading "Click, Clack, Moo" to a group of first and second graders. They were rolling in the aisles! In Cronin's new chapter book, the laughs continue. JJ Tully is a retired search and rescue dog who is enlisted by a hare-brained hen to find her two missing chicks. Naturally, there is a villain and Vince the dog plays the part well. The story reads like a Bogart movie with dogs and chickens.

JJ deduces that the chicks are held captive inside the house. He concocts a scheme to distract Vince and rescue the chicks. They discover, too late, that Vince has set a trap for JJ and has evil intentions for the chickens. Fortunately, in a surprising twist, the good guys win out and Vince is forced to face his punishment.

The chapter book crowd will enjoy this book and laugh out loud when they encounter the crazy antics of the characters. Kevin Cornell's illustrations are delightful and comical.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lori Katz on March 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In Doreen Cronin's THE TROUBLE WITH CHICKENS, J.J. is a retired search and rescue dog enjoying a quiet life in the country. Unfortunately his doghouse does not have a door and so when Millicent (Mooosh) the chicken asks for help in finding her two kidnapped chicks J.J. can't hide from helping to solve the mystery. All his training and experience will really come in handy when the inside dog, Vince the Funnel's scheme comes to light.

There are some very laugh out loud funny lines which made me laugh out loud. For instance, When J.J. informs Moosh that the inside dog, Vince the Funnel has the chicks "She was running around like a chicken without a head." The illustrations are adorable and young readers will enjoy the mystery and animal antics. Recommended for fans of THE DIARY OF A WORM or THE DIARY OF A SPIDER or any of Cronin's other books, or if you they like mysteries or animal fiction.
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