The Trouble With Chickens and The Legend of Diamond Lil were written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Kevin Cornell. Each book offers an adventure of JJ Tully, a former search and rescue dog with skills to track and rescue, but with an aging body. The books offer short chapters with frequent hand drawn illustrations. The books are perfect for 2nd and 3rd grade level readers. Kids will enjoy the antics of JJ and his other pet and animal friends. While some books this level are too mature in content or too babyish in language, this series offers a happy medium that will engage younger readers in a story perfect for the age-set. (And I mean that with sincere praise!)
In The Trouble with Chickens, we are introduced to JJ in his country home. He moves at a slow pace for a former search and rescue star, but still has sharp instincts. In this installment of the series, JJ meets a family of chicks and mother hen. He plays detective and discovers that there is a plot that puts the chicks and himself in danger. It’s all intrigue without being scary. The book is funny too, with little jokes via dialogue between the characters.
In Legend of Diamond Lil, which I actually read first, JJ continues to play guard dog to the chick family. This time he is distracted by a new to the neighborhood female dog. JJ tried to keep his mind on the business of keeping the chicks safe, but knows there is something suspicious about the new girl. Several character continue from the first book. The mystery in this book had a few twists and turns, but was also guess-able. Kids like that. Having read this one first, the books could be read out of order and still enjoyed.
Late Elementary students are in need of books like this. Each book is about 50 pages long, very readable with excellent vocabulary. I might put it on the level of Magic Tree House series as far as readability and interest. Students who like animals, humor, mysteries, and possibly danger will enjoy these books. Recommended for Reading Levels 2nd and 3rd grade.