Fresh from their Caldecott Honor win for Click Clack Moo, Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin present their sequel to the innovative tale of oppressed cows and the world of the written (er, typed) word. This time, it's the power of a pencil and the now-infamous wit of one determined Duck that keeps the farm (and young readers) in stitches.
Farmer Brown is going on vacation -- who could blame him after his last ordeal with Duck? He leaves the farm in the care of his suspenders-wearing brother, Bob, with a set of written instructions that include the warning "But keep an eye on Duck. He's trouble." As Farmer Brown drives away, Duck is seen eyeing a pencil, and readers can imagine what comes next. By the time Bob reads the first instructions from his brother, readers realize a few changes have been made, as in "Tuesday night is pizza night (not the frozen kind!)." Giggle, giggle. For the following day, Bob reads that the pigs need a bubble bath and a rubdown, including the use of the farmer's personal towels. Giggle, giggle, oink. Farmer Brown calls to check in, and when Bob reports no problems, his brother asks, "Are you keeping a very close eye on Duck?" Duck is too busy sharpening his pencil to notice Bob's stare. Thursday is movie night, as specified by the instructions. As The Sound of Moosic plays in the background, Farmer Brown calls again and hears "Giggle, giggle, quack, giggle, moo, giggle, oink..."
With the combination of a simple story and brilliant humor, young readers are sure to laugh at the wacky hijinks as the animals outwit Farmer Brown yet again. Fabulous watercolors convey the lighthearted spirit and jovial nature of these clever farm animals. Lewin's attention to hilarious detail, such as Farmer Brown's vacation attire (Hawaiian shirt and straw hat) and the very appropriate movie choice (made by the cows, of course) classifies this book as a truly rollicking read-aloud. (Amy Barkat)