Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The sights, smells and tastes of a country fair take center stage in this fresh-as-homegrown-tomatoes small-format picture book. With an understated, image-laden text and an array of evocative watercolor-and-pencil spot illustrations, Cooper (A Year in New York) introduces a light and airy world of country neighbors, prize-winning animals and just-baked pies. Fair-goers while away the day admiring giant pumpkins, cheering at the tractor-pull contest and eating hot dogs and fried dough. Cooper's hand-lettered words keep pace with the action as they meander, curve and even loop-the-loop their way around striped tents, a horse snacking on a newspaper and the Great Duck Race (won by the only duck who goes the right way). Ripe descriptions, e.g., shorn sheep that look "clean and pink and naked, as if they've just stepped out of the shower and can't find their towels," immerse young readers in the rural atmosphere. Throughout, Cooper scribbles tiny notes to himself regarding the art, giving the pages the feel of a sketchbook. He creates an actively imaginative visual experience by means of simple pencil lines and wisps of painted color: while illustrations suggest different animals, people and objects, kids are left to picture any finer details (e.g. facial features) on their own. A blue-ribbon effort. Ages 4-up. (Aug.)
Children's Literature - Sheree Van Vreede
As sentences twist and turn, and twirl around the pages, this country fair is brought to life. Canvas tents and piles of hay, weigh-ins and blue ribbons, french fries and fried dough are all captured. Readers can almost see and hear the sights and sounds, making them feel like it is happening right in front of them. The illustrations are simply done, but each page is filled with a lot of activity.
School Library Journal - School Library Journal
Gr 1-3While Marissa Moss's Amelia's Notebook (Tricycle, 1995) was enhanced by creative hand lettering, this book is limited by it. Sentences written in patterns that require readers to rotate the book make it an impossible read-aloud. The text is too sparse to be of any lasting interest to accomplished readers, while novices will be frustrated by trying to read circles and squares. Watercolor line drawings, devoid of facial expressions, ineffectively illustrate the limited content. This book says nothing about fairs that wasn't said and illustrated better by Gail Gibbons in Country Fair (Little, Brown, 1994) or by Ted Lewin in Fair! (Lothrop, 1997).Jackie Hechtkopf, Talent House School, Fairfax, VA
Cooper's first children's book creates a quirky, engaging look at the sights, sounds, and scents of a country fair.
Whimsical watercolors are all color and squigglesometimes Cooper even labels the scenery (as in the first spread, where the words "blue hill" appear on same). The crisp, hand-lettered text invites interactive read-alouds; some of it forms squares around the object of discussion, or circles around like a curlicued pig's tail, or zigs like the flight of a yellow jacket. The language is funny and clever: Just-sheared sheep are "clean and pink and naked, as if they've just stepped out of the shower and can't find their towels." Pies are judged, corn is shucked, a blue ribbon gets eaten by the winning cow, and then everything gets cleaned up; the field is empty again. For city children, for country childrenfun.