Cronin’s transitional reader is a superb blend of hardboiled detective story and comedy. Cornell’s animated illustrations add life and dimension to the characters, and ultimately amplify the story’s humor.
The four main characters—Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie—are four chicken siblings looking for crimes to solve. Despite their small stature, these chickens’ personalities demand attention. Adults and children alike will enjoy the chicken squad’s sharp humor, which is represented perfectly in their attempt at adult-like reactions to the situation. Despite the young chickens’ attempt at maturity, it is obvious that they approach life with a child’s outlook—such as a fascination with shapes and colors, and the fact that Dirt carries around a sketchpad with crayons. The supporting characters are interesting as well—the scaredy-cat squirrel and the old retired search-and-rescue dog.
The mystery has the reader guessing until the very end of the story. What is that shiny green object that the squirrel is so afraid of in the yard? Could it really be a UFO that has come to abduct the farm yard animals? You’ll have to read the story to find out!