Reviews for Trouble with Chickens : A J. J. Tully Mystery


Booklist Reviews 2011 February #1
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. Copyright 2011 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2011 Fall
Former search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully, laconic and unflappable, is lured out of retirement by a determined chicken who promises him a cheeseburger if he'll take on her case. Perfect pacing and reliably placed zingers, along with tidily embedded clues, a generous scattering of illustrations, a dandy plot twist, and a cast of hilarious characters, add up to a delightful treat. Copyright 2011 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2011 #2
J.J. Tully, retired search-and-rescue dog, is one tough cookie -- laconic, unflappable, and master of speech noir: "Sometimes there's a plan, sometimes there's only adrenaline. Sometimes adrenaline is all you need." He is lured out of retirement by a determined chicken who promises him a cheeseburger if he'll take on the case of her kidnapped offspring. The perp is Vince the Funnel, who looks like "a cross between a dachshund and a lamp" (he's a wiener dog with a cone on his head), and the victims (or so we think) are a couple of chicks, Poppy and Sweetie. Perfect pacing and reliably placed zinger lines keep us engaged and pulled into the next short chapter. A genial denouement involving the pleasures of community and the power of reading is fully earned. Tidily embedded clues, a generous scattering of vignette and full-page illustrations, a dandy plot twist, and a cast of hilarious characters add up to a treat of particular delight to fans of the mystery genre, dog lovers, and the chicken positive. sarah ellis Copyright 2011 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2011 February #2
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) Copyright Kirkus 2011 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2011 January #3

Cronin, best known for her witty barnyard picture books, Click, Clack, Moo and its successors, brings her droll humor to the chapter book set with great success. After seven years as a search-and-rescue dog, J.J. Tully (possibly a German shepherd) has been rewarded with retirement in the country. Though he puts on airs, recalling "a parade in my honor after I pulled three tornado victims out from under a mountain of debris," he grudgingly agrees to help a mother hen find her two missing chicks (in exchange for a cheeseburger). Behind his hard-boiled persona, J.J. has some genuine detective smarts, but he faces a formidable foe in Vince the Funnel, the "inside" dog, who looks "like a cross between a dachshund and a lamp" (he's wearing a cone-shaped collar due to an ear infection). Fast-paced and funny, with interesting vocabulary and a well-constructed plot, this is terrific fare for readers who are ready to move beyond picture books, but are intimidated by longer works. Cornell's pencil drawings have a mix of energy and humor that adds to the fun. Ages 8-12. (Mar.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2011 February

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

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