TROUBLE WITH CHICKENS by Doreen Cronin
J.J. Tully, a retired search and rescue dog who lives out in the country with his handler, Barb. Vince is Barb’s pet dog. Vince is jealous of J.J. and wants to get rid of “The Hero Dog.” Vince kidnaps two of Millicent’s chicks, Poppy and Sweetie, causing the mamma to hire J.J. for the price of a cheeseburger. Together with Millicent’s other two chicks, Dirt and Sugar, J.J. makes plans to rescue Poppy and Sweetie. Soon the tables are turned and J.J. is in a dog cage. Vince is sending J.J. to the vet for the night. Poppy and Sweetie have been in on the kidnapping the entire time. They agreed to Vince’s plans because they wanted to watch television (but stayed to read the books). J.J. gets Dirt to “come clean” and learns he was set-up. Now he needs to find a way out of the cage. One-by-one the chicks join J.J. and Vince is defeated, caged and sent to the vet for his needed ear plugs.
J.J. is a sarcastic mutt who loves the rescue part of search and rescue. He helps Millicent, who he nicknames Moosh. In the beginning, J.J. finds the chicks annoying. The two young ones, nicknamed Dirt and Sugar, play in his water and sleep in his food. Mamma Moosh is jumpy. The story has two perspectives, J.J. Tully’s and Vince’s. J.J. sounds like a detective, somewhat sarcastic and questions most everything. He nicknames each of the chickens with unusual names. Millicent is Moosh, Little Boo becomes Dirt and Peep he calls Sugar. Vince is not happy J.J. is around and wants to get rid of him. He uses the chickens as pawns and what ensues is a funny, surprising, and a well thought out, old-fashioned, fake kidnapping. The dialogue snaps, the story never drags, and the illustrations, mainly of J.J., are spot on.
I really liked this. I am not one to read a mystery but I liked this one. The sarcastic J.J. Tully sounds like a detective in a film noir story. Even his name, “J.J. Tully,” sounds like a detective with a harshly lit, one room office. He can seem bigger than life as he sizes up each character. Sugar is a sweet as her name and ironically, her love of books is the cause of the entire incident. The chicks are like little mobsters. Vince is the leader who over estimates himself and his plan. The story and wonderful illustrations remind me of Tom and Jerry cartoons. I think middle grade kids will love this new J.J. Tully mystery. It is sharp witted, funny and cartoonish. Simply wonderful.
Note: received galley from Net Galley.com, courtesy of the publisher