Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Mirages Don't Have Chicken Breath, Mister: The Trouble With Chickens by Doreen Cronin

"There's an easy way to do a search and a hard way.
 The easy way is early in the evening with a cool breeze and a steady partner.
The hard way is high noon with a crazy chicken clucking in your ear and two feather balls riding your tail.
 This search was gonna go the hard way."

This easy chapter book lends itself to dramatic reading.  It's a send-up of the hard-boiled detective genre;  J.J.,  a retired search-and-rescue dog, is hired by a local chicken to find two missing chicks (he won't work for chicken feed or feathers, but she promises him a cheeseburger).  There are lots of good bits to act out, like:

"I never backed down from a staring contest in my life, but her eyes were so tiny and close-set, it was making me cross-eyed."


"I sucked my breath in through my nose as hard as I could.  Sugar was dragged right between the two bars and stuck to my nose like a stray sock on a freshly dried towel."

(Sugar is one of the missing chicks. Just picture it. )

Jokes abound, and they're really funny.  One of them involves a ransom note which contains the words "behoove", "rendezvous", and "twilight".  Our sardonic narrator J.J. observes:

"I've been lowered from a helicopter, strapped to a snowmobile, and flown first-class to France to find a backcountry skier lost in the Alps.  
Not once did anyone find it necessary to use the word behoove."

If I want to get a laugh out of my son now, all I have to do is tell him that it behooves him to rendezvous with me at the dinner table. 

Like many of the best books for this reading level, lots of illustrations add interest to the text.  Here's J.J. enjoying retirement, and J.J. in a peck (bad pun) of trouble.

Just can't trust those chickens. 


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