Friday, July 13, 2012

Fiction Friday

I'm linking up with The Teaching Thief today for her fabulous weekly segment that reviews the best in kid's literature.  For my pick this week:

The Trouble with Chickens
by Doreen Cronin

I always run into a big problem as a fifth grade teacher recommending books to my students who are below grade level.  With that in mind, I went searching for a book at about a third grade reading level.  I found a fabulous book list here which guided me as I perused the shelves of Barnes and Noble.  

First, I must say, that I was lying in bed reading, I did say to myself several times that I was reading a book about a talking dog and talking chickens.  That said, I found this book really funny.

J.J. Tully is a recently retired search-and-rescue dog living out the rest of his days in self-proclaimed boredom in a quiet house in the country.   Dozing in his dog house one day, a chicken named Moosh comes for his help in finding her two missing chicks.  J.J. reluctantly agrees to take the case for a cheeseburger.

While the plot is quite simple with a memorable bad guy named Vince the funnel - an inside dog wearing a cone, what makes this story entertaining is that it's written as a first-person detective noir crime novel.  Check out the opening lines:

It was a hot sunny day when I met that crazy chicken.
So hot that sometimes I think that the whole thing may have been a mirage.
But mirages don't have chicken breath, mister. 

Throughout the entire book, I thought of L.A. Confidential and wondered, will kids get this?  Will they find it as funny as I do or will they miss it because they don't know the genre?

The Trouble with Chickens was a satisfying mystery with a few plot twists.  I will definitely be recommending it to some of my students to get their opinion on it as well.


  1. I loved reading your review! Very entertaining and I can't wait to unearth my copy of this book and read it. It is currently buried in a bin at school. Oops! As a 4th grade teacher, I too run into the problem of finding high interest lower readability books. I will happily add this book to my list for student recommendations. Thanks for linking up!!

    The Teaching Thief

  2. I saw this book while shopping for my classroom. I as so curious about it, and am so glad that you reviewed it! It sounds like an entertaining read aloud!!

    Peacocks and Penguins - 4th Grade

  3. I can't wait to read it's part of the Sunshine State readers' list this year. Here's a link that might give you some good ideas for your kids. Each year they choose a new set, so check out the archives. I've found some of my favorites from this list...namely "The Word Eater" and "The World According to Humphrey." Great out of the ordinary stories! Thanks for the great review! (sunshine state readers link)