The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure

Book review by
Barbara Schultz, Common Sense Media
The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure Book Poster Image
Lots of laughs on the farm in fun, silly chicken tale.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

One of the little chicks illustrates different shapes, including a triangle, rhombus, and circle. Their friend Tail the squirrel uses different synonyms for the words "big" and "scary," so kids will learn some vocabulary as well.

Positive messages

Your "big and scary" imagination is probably worse than reality.

Positive role models & representations

J.J. the dog protects the chicks, and he reminds the chicks of what's real vs. what they imagine.

Violence & scariness

The chicks and squirrel are afraid of the "big and scary" circle in the yard, and they throw rocks at it, but the "enormous and terrifying" green thing is not a real threat..

Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure is an early-reader chapter book from Doreen Cronin, the author of popular picture books including Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. Chicken Squad also takes place on a farm, where a dog named J.J. Tully -- introduced in Cronin's first early-reader chapter book,The Trouble with Chickens -- is charged with protecting a family of baby chicks with overactive imaginations. The animals' flair for the dramatic and Kevin Cornell's funny illustrations make this book highly entertaining. There may be a touch of suspense for very young children concerning the "UFO" in the barnyard, but there's nothing really scary -- this story is definitely played for laughs.

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What's the story?

In Doreen Cronin's THE CHICKEN SQUAD: THE FIRST MISADVENTURE, a dog called J.J. Tully introduces himself as a former search-and-rescue dog who is in charge of protecting four fuzzy yellow chicks (the Chicken Squad), who have a tendency to get into trouble. While J.J. is napping, a frightened squirrel named Tail enters the chicken coop and tells the squad that he has seen something big and scary in the yard. The chicks press Tail to describe the scary thing, and after the squirrel tells them it is round and green, and "interrupted the atmosphere," the chicks deduce that aliens have landed in the barnyard, and the invaders must be after the chickens!

Is it any good?

Doreen Cronin has a unique talent for endowing farm animals with funny human abilities. And thanks to illustrator Kevin Cornell, the members of the Chicken Squad and Tail the squirrel are really funny-looking, too (especially when the chicks camouflage themselves as grass). The chicks' misapprehension of the nervous squirrel's encounter in the yard makes for perfect early reader-level humor, too. This is a fun, silly book with lots of laughs and a bit of edutainment as well.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about using your imagination. The chicks think the round, green, big, scary thing in the yard is a UFO. What else is round and green? What else could you imagine it might be?

  • Why are stories about animals so popular? What are some of your favorites? 

  • Try drawing the chicken squad.

Book details

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