Delightfully slapstick in nature The Chicken Squad builds on the tiny, comical characters who first appear in The Trouble with Chickens, the original...moreDelightfully slapstick in nature The Chicken Squad builds on the tiny, comical characters who first appear in The Trouble with Chickens, the original J.J. Tully mystery. A perfect graduation from her brilliant picture books, these short, easy chapter books by Doreen Cronin (of Click, Clack, Moo fame) provide an ideal bridge for young readers.
J.J. Tully, the retired police dog from Trouble with Chickens introduces the story and makes a short--but pivotal--appearance in the climax of the Chicken Squad plot. The majority of the story surrounds Moosh the Chicken's four offspring (Dirt, Sugar, Poppy & Sweetie) as they mobilize to help Tail the Squirrel when he sees "something big and scary in the yard."
UFOs, a squirrel who repeatedly insists he is brave but continuously faints from fear, chicks licking each other and rolling in grass clippings for camouflage and tons of silly, clever dialogue will have young readers (and those of us who read it to them) giggling like crazy. With absurdly witty exchanges like:
"Dirt, you take the helium and stick with Tail. He's going to show you where the UFO landed. Send up the balloon when you get there. That's our target everyone!"
"Wait," said the squirrel. "Wouldn't it be easier to just blow up the balloon here instead of dragging a helium tank all the way across the yard?"
Sugar let out a heavy sigh.
"You can't camouflage yourself and then walk around with a giant, orange balloon!" snapped Sugar. "Think, squirrel, think!"
"Wow," said the squirrel. "You guys are good."
The Chicken Squad will be a HUGE winner as a read-aloud or independent reading choice in a classroom or at home.
Kevin Cornwell's illustrations are just as wonderfully quirky as the Chicken Squad, themselves. Although the illustration are in black-and-white they are presented with an incredible depth of gray shades, making them as vibrant as the best color panels in picture books. Combined with the engaging text Cornwell's work only enhances the transitional aspect The Chicken Squad offers young and growing readers!
On a teaching note for home or classroom: When Tail tries to describe what he has seen to the Chicken Squad he says only that it is "big and scary." Dirt and Sugar have an ongoing exchange with him, building from chapter to chapter to help him find more specific, detailed ways to describe what he ahs seen. This is a great springboard for lessons/discussions on adjectives and writing for older (3rd grade) readers/writers and as a language experience in 1st and 2nd grade. (less)
I am THRILLED to see that Candace Fleming has written a third book in the Muncha, Muncha, Muncha series that rises to the level of the first one! The...moreI am THRILLED to see that Candace Fleming has written a third book in the Muncha, Muncha, Muncha series that rises to the level of the first one! The second book (Tippy, Tippy, Tippy, Hide) was a huge letdown after the strength of rhyme, rhythm, character and plot in the original. In this installment the bunnies infiltrate Mr. McGreely's trip to the beach (his attempt to relax and get away from . The strong rhythm of the text and light-hearted mischievousness of the bunnies will once again pull young readers into the story. (less)
I was disappointed in Dogku. I am a huge dog lover and after reading the astonishingly BRILLIANT Won Ton, the story of a cat told entirely through hai...moreI was disappointed in Dogku. I am a huge dog lover and after reading the astonishingly BRILLIANT Won Ton, the story of a cat told entirely through haiku I was thrilled to find what could perhaps be a counterpart when reading poetry to young people.
Tim Bowers' illustrations in Dogku are terrific. They remind me quite a lot of those by David Shannon in the delightful Good Boy, Fergus with their blurred edges, heavily secondary color palette and the variety of adorable characterizations of the title dog.
Clements' text, unfortunately, does not love up to the illustrations or my expectations. It is uninspired and uninspiring for the reader.(less)
I am a little muddled about this story--mostly because I think the story itself doesn't know exactly what it is trying to be. The title indicates a va...moreI am a little muddled about this story--mostly because I think the story itself doesn't know exactly what it is trying to be. The title indicates a variation on the traditional tale of Little Red Riding Hoodbut it's not a variation at all.
All of the elements, the characters and the plot progression of the original story remain the same. The differences are:(1) it is told from the perspective of the Big Bad Wolf; and (2) the Wolf claims the reason everything happened the way it did is because he was hungry and Red Riding Hood and her Grandmother reminded him of apples.
The two things that Ms Shaskan does do well is: (1)collaborate with illustrator Gerald Guerlais whose broad, rich reds, greens & browns save a blasé text with their smart and witty characterizations; and (2)include her sidebar Think About It at the conclusion, encouraging young readers to recreate those well-known and loved stories they have heard over and over again.
For this reason I might think about using it in a classroom discussing plot or character structure, setting, point of view, etc. As a stand-alone read, however, it does not have much to recommend it. If the fractured fairy tale from another character's point of view is really what you are looking for your best bet remains Jon Szieska's The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood.(less)
I read this book because I thought it looked like an excellent opportunity to transform a traditional fairy tale into something even more meaningful a...moreI read this book because I thought it looked like an excellent opportunity to transform a traditional fairy tale into something even more meaningful and clever. I was further encouraged by the reviews I read from people gifting this version to children at the holidays. Perhaps this is why I was sorely disappointed with the actual work.
It was NOT a clever retelling of the The Three Bears. It is an uninspired repetition of a classic structure in which an-oft beloved character (whom children are usually taught cares, protects and bestows gifts upon them)is cast as the 'Goldilocks' character. This could certainly work with creative and intelligent character and plot constructs accompanying it. Unfortunately here Santa never even apologizes for entering their home without permission, eating the pudding, etc. (but ESPECIALLY breaking the child's chair)and, although he does give them each their Christmas gift before he leaves for the rest of his deliveries the reader never sees what is in their packages. Most young readers will feel unsatisfied with the way in which this story resolves itself.
Santa does call back over his shoulder that he will replace Baby Bear's chair next year, but I have yet to meet a child under the age of 10 that is fine with you replacing something next year. So many of the Santa's character's actions simply do not ring true for the traditional character and there is no character or plot twist that indicates he is anything other than the traditional icon.
I would not recommend this book to small children/young readers.(less)
Perfect book for dog lovers!!! Age appropriate, adorable in the ways only dogs are and full of the ridiculous humor and unconditional love dogs bring...morePerfect book for dog lovers!!! Age appropriate, adorable in the ways only dogs are and full of the ridiculous humor and unconditional love dogs bring with them into families--especially families with children.(less)
Cheetah Can't Lose is another winner from author Bob Shea. When Cheetah's friends celebrate the coming of Big Race Day Cheetah's response is:
...moreCheetah Can't Lose is another winner from author Bob Shea. When Cheetah's friends celebrate the coming of Big Race Day Cheetah's response is:
Which big race?
The one I always win because I am big and fast and you always lose because you are little and cats?
His friends (two little cats) tell Cheetah this year they are having a lot of races so that everyone can win. Cheetah is still confident HE will win ALL the races. The cats take him through the Flower Jumping Race, the Pie-Eating Race, the Ice Cream Sundae-Eating Race, the Yarn Pouncing Race and a Mind-Reading Guessing Race. As Cheetah competes against his two friends they award him special "winner" shoes (big boxes), victory balloons and a too-big crown that falls over his eyes as he brags about his victories and they giggle behind their hands.
By the time they arrive at the final Great Big Race, Cheetah is a disaster. The reader enjoys seeing Cheetah's bragging create his own downfall at the hands of the clever kittens. The big, bright illustrations help create the chaotic atmosphere for Cheetah that ultimately decides the winner of The Big Race. The added piece of this story for me was that after the clever kittens have triumphed over the braggart, Cheetah, they perform a touching act of kindness toward him that gives the story an entirely deeper dimension that speaks to revenge and true friendship. (less)
A good, solid retelling of one of my favorites The Three Billy Goats Gruff. This version doesn't change anything except for transforming the goats int...moreA good, solid retelling of one of my favorites The Three Billy Goats Gruff. This version doesn't change anything except for transforming the goats into Triceratops and the Troll into a Tyrannosaurus Rex. If you have a child who is crazy for dinosaurs this is an excellent choice for a classic, timeless story with characters in which he or she will delight. (less)
Just OK. Probably reasonable choice for early chapter book readers (K- beginning of 2nd grade). After that content is too juvenile without much charac...moreJust OK. Probably reasonable choice for early chapter book readers (K- beginning of 2nd grade). After that content is too juvenile without much character or plot development. I was disappointed, as I enjoy Megan MacDonald's other work.(less)
Turkey Tot is a clever re-telling of the classic story The Little Red Hen. In this version the Little Red Hen is replaced by Turkey Tot and the three...moreTurkey Tot is a clever re-telling of the classic story The Little Red Hen. In this version the Little Red Hen is replaced by Turkey Tot and the three uncooperative friends are Chick, Pig and Hen. Instead of preparing and baking bread Turkey Tot wants the sweet, juicy blackberries in the tree high above their heads.
The other animals agree that the blackberries look delicious but they are too far out of reach and therefore impossible to pick. The animals began to walk away. Turkey Tot discovers a ball of string and concocts a plan to find balloons, tie them to the string and float up to the tree where they will then be able to pick the blackberries. The other three animals dismiss his idea:
"Not me," said Chick. "You're talking crazy talk."
"Not me," said Pig. "We can't reach the berries and that is that."
"Tsk, tsk," said Hen. "He's been different since the day he hatched."
Turkey Tot's response is always that he will do it himself followed by:
But he couldn't. So he didn't. But he found something else.
Turkey Tot's next discovery leads to another ingenious plan, and so on.
The structure of the original Little Red Hen story solidly underlies Turkey Tot but here the characters have a little more personality--other than lazy and selfish. In the end Chick, Pig and Hen come to appreciate Turkey Tot's creative and original thinking. The phrase "He's been different since the day he hatched." becomes an expression of admiration instead of a put-down, leaving all four characters better off than they were at the beginning of the story.
Jennifer Mann's illustrations are bright primary and secondary hues in bold panels. The characters are drawn simply yet completely and Turkey Tot has wonderfully quirky facial expressions that mirror his personality perfectly.
This is a great read-aloud for younger children in classrooms or at home. I will also be using it with older students when I study fairy tales for structure and examples of different versions based on a traditional form. (less)
I laughed out loud at this one! In Lion, Shark and TimberWolf are finding it hurtful that other animals whisper behind their backs, call them "bad kit...moreI laughed out loud at this one! In Lion, Shark and TimberWolf are finding it hurtful that other animals whisper behind their backs, call them "bad kitty" and hold Little Red Riding Hood and "feeding frenzies" against them.
Coming together in a support group for Carnivores they decide the best way to avoid being treated this way by other animals is to become vegetarians. And they try. Without success.
Disguises are the next idea, allowing them to blend in and be included by the other animals. Predictably, this plan also fails as none are able to maintain their disguises for very long.
With advice from the Wise Old Owl they realize that they are CARNIVORES. That is what they were intended to be and they do not need to feel bad or ashamed of it. They are meant to exist in this world in this particular way and that's OK.
The text is perfectly proportioned for each page and Santat's illustrations showcase his genius in characterization. He brings a modern graphic novel quality to the story. The bunnies and the TimberWolf I find particularly hilarious.
I, personally, love the slight humorous twist at the end of the story. In my opinion it saves it from being too sappy and gives it the perfect 'edge.' That said, it may not be for everyone; my sense of humor tends to lean farther toward parody, absurdist (even sarcasm) than some others.
As it is I shared it with my children (ages 9 and 11) but I would still have read it with them if they were age 2 and above. I could definitely see this being used in an elementary science life cycle lesson or one clarifying vegetarian/carnivore terms and traits. (less)