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The Flea's Sneeze

The Flea's Sneeze

5.0 3
by Lynn Downey, Karla Firehammer (Illustrator)

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On a dark, dark night
On an old, old farm
In a rickety, crickety
Tumbledown barn,
Everyone slept peacefully-
But not the flea . . .

A delightfully silly barnyard tale-now in paperback

What happens when a flea gets a bad case of the sniffles? Utter pandemonium in the barnyard! This rollicking


On a dark, dark night
On an old, old farm
In a rickety, crickety
Tumbledown barn,
Everyone slept peacefully-
But not the flea . . .

A delightfully silly barnyard tale-now in paperback

What happens when a flea gets a bad case of the sniffles? Utter pandemonium in the barnyard! This rollicking picture book follows a lovable flea and his exceptional sneeze through the mayhem. Before the night is over, every animal-from the mouse to the cow-has something to say. Will the animals ever fall back to sleep?

Lynn Downey's quirky text and Karla Firehammer's charming pictures make this a winning story for preschool children.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
"The rollicking rhythms and kid-pleasing repetition of the rhyming verse recommend this perky volume for a lighthearted read-aloud," PW said. "The artwork depicts the slumbering barnyard cast in humorous poses." Ages 3-6. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The rollicking rhythms and kid-pleasing repetition of Downey's (Sing, Henrietta! Sing!) rhyming verse recommend this perky volume for a lighthearted read-aloud. In a tumbledown barn, all the animals sleep peacefully, except a tiny flea, who coughs, sniffles and utters a plaintive plea to his snoring pals, "Does eddybody hab a tissue for be?" Finally, he issues an enormous sneeze that manages to rouse the menagerie: "It scared the rat,/ Who cried `Boohoo!'/ And woke the cat,/ Who hissed `Mairoo!'/ It baffled the bat,/ Whose eyes turned blue,/ And confused the cow,/ Who muttered `Moo Moo!' " After the mouse (whom "the flea used for a house") produces a tissue, all settle back to sleep, save the hog ("No one heard his garbled wheeze,/ `I think I'b godda sdeeze'"). Debut illustrator Firehammer's acrylic art shows the slumbering cast in humorous poses: on various spreads, the frog sleeps atop a dog who is curled up on the back of the hog, the bat hangs upside-down from the cow's tail and the owl stands on one leg as it dozes on a windowsill. Even better, their positions change from one spread to the next. Preschoolers will eagerly point out each animal with the repeat mentions of the barn's residents. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
Children's Literature
All the animals in the barn on an old, old farm are sleeping peacefully, even a black-eyed bat and an old barn frog. "But not the flea." For the poor flea has a cold. As Downey repeats the list of sleeping animals, "not the flea" is the refrain. From cough to sniffle to plea for a tissue, flea's plight remains ignored until his loud "Ah-choo!" startles everyone into wild, rhymed action. When peace is finally restored, however, there is a humorous hint that it will not be for long. Firehammer's double-page acrylic paintings provide visual variety to the repetitive text. Alternating with the close-ups of the wakeful flea, the permutations and combinations of sleeping animals create a comic counterpoint to the listing of names. The color drawings emphasize the decorative background, starry landscape, and close-to-cute critters. 2000, Henry Holt and Company, $17.00. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-The cover, showing a flea on a mouse on a cat on a dog on a pig on a cow, with other creatures jumping, perching, and flying about, affords a preliminary hint of the simple story within. All of the animals are asleep in the barn. The flea coughs, but nobody hears him. He asks for a tissue, and is still unheard. When he sneezes loudly, everyone abruptly awakens, a tissue is found, and they all settle down-until the hog feels a sneeze coming on. The rhymed text is forced, so that while other animals are called by their familiar names, the hen is "a feathered fowl" to rhyme with "owl." When the menagerie begins to hoot, crow, bark, etc., the hog screams "`Eeeeeeww!'/And reminded the frog/Of his old nephew," a line both puzzling in context and unnecessary. The softly colored, warmly textured acrylic illustrations are lively and funny. However, the text suffers from an overbalance of build-up leading to an understated ending, which seems anticlimactic after the long, tedious repetitions of the catalog of animals. For a book about an explosive sneeze with comical consequences that's easier to read aloud, try Ruth Brown's The Big Sneeze (Lothrop, 1985). It's economical, direct text emphasizes the humor rather than overburdening it with words.-Marian Drabkin, Richmond Public Library, CA Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A tiny little flea with a great big cold disrupts the slumber of the barnyard animals in this rollicking tale with a fitting end. Sprightly, rhyming verses recount the trials of the beleaguered insect as it struggles to go to sleep. A tickling cough, a few sniffles, a desperate request for a tissue all go unheeded by his barn mates, which include everything from a rooster to a frog. When the inevitable sneeze erupts, mayhem ensues as the other animals awaken with a start: "It scared the rat, / Who cried ‘Boohoo!' / And woke the cat, / Who hissed ‘Mairoo!' / It baffled the bat, / Whose eyes turned blue / And confused the cow, / Who muttered ‘Moo Moo!' " Amid the confusion, the sympathetic mouse that "the flea used for a house" finally gives the long-suffering flea a tissue. Downey's bouncy verses merrily skip along to the uproarious conclusion, which ends on a comical note as everyone, including the flea, settles down again—with the exception of the hog . . . "I think I'b godda sdeeze." Newcomer Firehammer's full-page, full-color illustrations perfectly suit the silly story. Brightly colored, the pictures are intricately detailed and are funny throughout, even though there is no real action until the sneeze. From the myriad of silly sleeping positions of the various animals to the bleary-eyed expressions on the flea's face, there's plenty to pore and laugh over. And kids will clamor to hear it read again and again. (Picture book. 3-6)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
10.28(w) x 10.30(h) x 0.41(d)
Age Range:
3 - 6 Years

Meet the Author

Lynn Downey is the author of Most Loved Monster among other books for young readers. She lives with her husband and three sons in Hempstead, Maryland.

Karla Firehammer is the illustrator of If the Shoe Fits and At Grandma's. She lives in Lenexa, Kansas, with her dogs, cat, and an occasional flea.

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Flea's Sneeze 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My 7 month old daughter and I loved this book. We read it at least once a day. So much so, that I am checking on more books written by Lynn Downey. Thanks so much.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of my sons' favorites and a fun one to read for those of us who live for variety and don't get a lot of it! I recommend it, in fact I just ordered it as a gift.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is wonderful with it's easy rhyming and sweet story line. Both of my boys ages 1 and 5-1/2 years old bring this book to me everyday for me to read (not exaggerating).I was really suprised that my active 1 year old would sit still to the end, but he loves it. One of his new words is sneeze. The whole family knows the flea's story from start to finish by heart, but are not yet tired of it. This book has great rhyming that will strongly help prepare children for reading readiness. I highly recommend "The Flea's Sneeze" to book lovers of all ages!!