Hidden Gems: The Chicken Squad

If you have not yet read The Chicken Squad mystery series, you are really missing out! Doreen Cronin, the author of Click, Clack, Moo and Diary of a Worm, has another hit on her hands with this easy chapter book series. This book is a great fit for 2nd - 4th grades. I personally used The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure with my struggling fourth grade readers at the beginning of the year - and they LOVED it. I found it hard to find new easy chapter books for those students, because they had either heard or "read" many of the popular series before or didn't want to read them because they seemed like "baby" books. I mean, no one wants to read the book that everyone else read in 2nd or 3rd grade.
Are you looking for an easy chapter book for your students?  The Chicken Squad will hook any reader, whether they love to read or are struggling. This mystery is a great mentor text for voice and character development. It is also a terrific example for visualization.

Summary of The Chicken Squad

This book is in part told by J.J. Tully, a retired search-and-rescue dog. Tully has to share his yard with a chicken, Moosh, and her crazy chicks. In this adventure, the chicks take on their first case when a squirrel asks for help. Unfortunately, the squirrel doesn't communicate well, and the Chicken Squad has to muddle their way through the mystery. Tully watches this whole thing unfold and decides he had better protect the chicks from themselves. In the end, Tully solves the mystery - and the Chicken Squad!

Teaching The Chicken Squad: Voice, Character Development, and Illustrations

This book is a great story to hook students. When J.J. Tully narrates, the story has a strong voice - the reader can almost hear him talking! Also, the story uses both a first-person and a third-person narrator. Teachers could use this book as a mentor text for learning the different types of narration, as the text could be used as examples for each.  Also, teachers could compare how the feel or sound of the story changed when the type of narrator was switched.

Also, character development is also strong in The Chicken Squad. Students can track the information they learn about each character in order to understand how the author builds them throughout the story. Teachers could also show how characters interact, as well as how one character's actions affect the events and actions of other characters.

Finally, this book has amazing illustrations.  If teachers are trying to help students visualize what they read, this book could be used as a read aloud.  Teachers could pause during the book and have students close their eyes to see a picture in their mind. As students have their picture, the illustrations could be used to show how someone else saw the story. Students could compare their visualizations to the illustrations. Teachers could also show how the illustrations were made using facts from the story. That will help students to understand how the illustrator created his images - which is similar to what readers do when they read.

If you have a student that is looking for an easy chapter book or needs support in order to improve his or her reading, try this The Chicken Squad.  Not only is the book itself fantastic, but it is also a series. Finding a great series has helped turned many children into readers. Once they read the first book, they want to read all of them!
Are you looking for an easy chapter book for your students?  The Chicken Squad will hook any reader, whether they love to read or are struggling. This mystery is a great mentor text for voice and character development. It is also a terrific example for visualization.
If you are looking for a literature guide for The Chicken Squad, I have a complete novel unit in my TPT store.  It has everything needed to teach the book: vocabulary, comprehension questions, grammar activities, and more!

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