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Children's LiteratureThe barnyard really swings in this Southern folktale first retold in print by Joel Chandler Harris, later by Julius Lester (The Last Tales of Uncle Remus, Dial 1994). Hamilton and Weiss add their own twists to the story of a farm full of animals invited to a party by their neighbors. Donning their Sunday best—Cow in her red polka-dot dress, Pig with his purple cap and striped umbrella—they prance off for an afternoon of games and dancing, including old favorites like "Pin the Tail on the Donkey" and the Hokey Pokey, happily "shaking it all about." When it is time for food, though, they cannot help being disappointed to see bowls of cornbread set before them; only Rooster is rude enough to complain, stalking off to home in a huff. Young listeners will be delighted to discover what Rooster missed and why he has always scratched so diligently for his food ever since. Painted in sharp-toned acrylics, the expressive faces of Tate's large, energetic animals project strong feelings from blissed-out to sulky. Southern idioms and Southern food provide local color, though it is a bit bizarre to see a pig eating bacon as a sheep seated next to him waves a piece of ham exactly the same color as Pig. The youngest singers and dancers might have fun linking these party animals with the hoedown in Sandra Boynton's Barnyard Dance (Workman, 1993), while browsers can enjoy identifying the hearty Southern dishes temptingly pictured on the endpapers. 2006, August House Littlefolk, Ages 2 to 6.
—Barbara L. Talcroft