The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure

Book review by
Mary Eisenhart, Common Sense Media
The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure Book Poster Image
Cuteness, silliness, not much plot in Chicken Squad sequel.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Many kids will be way ahead of the chickens when it comes to figuring out, for example, that if you make four left turns you wind up in pretty much the same place -- or knowing the difference between feet and inches, a concept on which not all the characters are perfectly clear. They'll probably notice that the Weird Blue Chicken looks a lot like a blue jay, too.

Positive Messages

Kindness, sharing, and learning to like new things. Helping those who need it.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The Chicken Squad siblings -- Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie -- generally mean well but somehow manage to cause more problems than they solve. Retired search-and-rescue dog/detective J.J. Tully has the working dog's work ethic, which gives him low expectations about the chicks' work, but he's always a protective presence in the background.

Violence & Scariness

One bird is dealing with another who's taken over her house; a mean squirrel tries to take away a hammer from the Chicken Squad, all of whom are planning to use it as a weapon; a birdhouse falls from a tree and shatters, startling its occupant.

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken is the second installment in bestselling author Doreen Cronin's series about the fuzzy, troublemaking Chicken Squad, with a cameo appearance by retired search-and-rescue dog J.J. Tully. The good news: Not much is problematic, and there are a few gentle lessons about kindness and sharing. The bad news: Kevin Cornell's funny illustrations and endless silliness can't disguise the fact that there's not much of a plot or much sense of resolution once the "mystery" is solved. This just isn't one of the strongest books featuring the chickens, though it's fine for short-term amusement.

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What's the story?

The long-suffering rescue dog J.J. Tully introduces the Chicken Squad and tells us how they're always getting in trouble, from which J.J. often has to save them. This time, they've just advertised their services all around the barnyard when along comes their first customer (whom everyone but the Squad will immediately recognize as a blue jay). Soon the fuzzy siblings are trying to find a missing house and evict an unwelcome visitor, tasks made no easier by many silly communication problems.

Is it any good?

Fans of the first misadventure in the Chicken Squad series and The Trouble with Chickens will enjoy THE CASE OF THE WEIRD BLUE CHICKEN. Those reading aloud will love the opportunities for comic character voices and sound effects. Kevin Cornell's funny illustrations bring the characters to life. Many kids will have plenty of chances to outsmart the silly chickens as the mystery unfurls, and lots of ridiculous antics along the way keep things entertaining. But all this distraction can't disguise the slightness of the plot, and the resolution will have quite a few readers wondering, "That's it?"

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the siblings in the Chicken Squad. Do they behave like any kids you know?

  • Have you read any of Doreen Cronin's other books? Do you like stories about animals doing things (like solving mysteries) that we expect humans to do? What do you like about them? What are some of your favorites?

  • If you had to deal with someone who'd moved into your house and wouldn't let you in, what would you do?

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For kids who love funny books and animal stories

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