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A hysterical hen is convinced that her beloved chick is meeting his doom in the farmyard's deep, thick mud. After getting stuck herself trying to free him, she enlists the entire farm population to help her; one by one, each gets entrapped in the mud as well. The chain of pullers and pushers grows long enough to require a gatefold spread, at which point the cheeky chick reveals that he was never in any danger: "It's time I got out," he announces. "And with a small plop,/ Chick jumped off the mud/ with a skip and hop." Clarke's predictable rhymes and word choices ("It's purr-fectly easy," says a cat, "I'll soon pull you free") may make presiding adults yearn for Jez Alborough's far punchier mud-as-nemesis tale, Duck in a Truck. But Parsons (Trouble at the Dinosaur Café) assembles a memorably emotive animal cast, and it's a lot of fun to watch this hapless and increasingly chagrined group struggle its way toward a totally unnecessary rescue. Ages 3-7. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.