Thursday, June 9, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on June 9, 2011 
Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

The Trouble with Chickens: a J.J. Tully Mystery, by Doreen Cronin, 119 pages.
J.J. Tully, now retired, once performed courageous and daring missions as a search-and-rescue dog. He scaled steep mountains to rescue lost climbers, pulled people out of rubble piles after earthquakes, entered dark canyons to rescue lost hikers, located disoriented people during terrible blizzards, and more. However, none of these feats have prepared him for the challenging mystery that confronts him on the farm to which he has retired, where two small chicks have disappeared.
Their mother is frantic and won’t let J.J. rest until he finds her two darling balls of fluff – but where are they? Have they been chick-napped? Can J.J. count on his nose to find their trail, or is he about to be outsmarted by two doubly-mischievous little chicks, a mysterious ransom note and the devious “Vince the Funnell”? In the end, perhaps only J.J.’s highly-developed sense of smell can sniff out the evidence for the answer!
The Trouble with Chickens is Doreen Cronin’s first chapter book for children, but with its dead-pan humour, it’s just as hilarious as her popular picture books (such as Click Clack Moo: Cows that Type). Kevin Cornell’s expressive illustrations add to this terrific story – the first in the J.J.Tully Mystery Series, written for children who are beginning to read chapter books.
** Recommended for ages 7 to 10 years.

Tough Chicks, by Cece Meng, 28 pages.
Mama Hen’s three chicks – Penny, Polly and Molly – were three independent, energetic, tough little chicks. They wrestled worms, raced bugs and dove off the fence after pesky farm flies. They grabbed the end of the cow’s tail to hitch a ride, and roped roosters.
The three chicks were inquisitive too - they explored the henhouse, the barn, the barnyard and even the engine under the hood of the tractor. “Were chicks supposed to be so curious?” Farmer Fred wondered to himself.
Mama Hen worried just a little about her chicks. Were they perhaps a little too inquisitive, independent and rambunctious? They didn’t peck grain quietly from the henhouse floor, or preen their feathers in the sun, as did the other chicks on the farm. Nor did they scramble to hide under their mama’s wing, afraid to come out, when something noisy or big appeared in the barnyard. Why, her little chicks weren’t afraid of anything!
But Mama Hen realized that she didn’t need to worry at all about her chicks on the day when Farmer’s Fred’s runaway tractor, headed straight for the henhouse and a catastrophe, was headed off by none other than Penny, Polly and Molly. (And later, they were able to fix the tractor too!) She realized that indeed, she had three very smart, very brave, “tough” chicks! And that was a good thing.
Cece Meng’s amusing story, with its expressive illustrations and its relevant message about appreciating others’ differences and abilities will be a definite “hit” with young children and their parents.
** Recommended for ages 3 to 7 years. 

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