Publishers Weekly - Publishers WeeklyPart mystery, part shaggy dog story, this long-winded picture book features a companionable old man and woman whose kindness to a horse, cow and two chickens result in their mutual good fortune. Not only do these animals talk, but they also cook breakfast, clean and, conveniently, capture a pair of robbers. Unfortunately, Stevens's (Anna, Grandpa, and the Big Storm) convoluted plot, clunky dialogue and weak character development weigh down the book, despite the whimsical illustrations. Chapman's (Doggie Dreams) oil paintings convey the optimism of the good guys (the old couple; the animals), while the villains (the farmer who tracks down the animals; the robbers) seem cast from a Snidely Whiplash cartoon. Their frozen, toothy smiles and their blustery or mean-spirited actions contrast well with the wide-eyed innocence of the other characters. The inept sheriff's language ("Hands-hands-oh, I almost forgot. Handcuffs!") sounds awkward. On the other hand, children may enjoy the repeated sound effects-the horse walks "clippity clop, clippity clop," the hens fly "flippity flappity," and the cow moves "clumpity clump, clumpity clump." Ultimately, however, the drawn-out storytelling dilutes the comedy. Ages 4-8. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's LiteratureThe night began like every other one for the old man and woman who lived on a farm, except this night it was snowy. That's when the first knock on the door surprised them since no one should be out in the cold night. It was horse who needed a place to stay. The old man and woman could not believe their ears, but they heard the horse talk. A few more visitors arrived including two hens and a cow. They were all welcomed by the couple. When they awoke the next morning, their new friends were cleaning and cooking breakfast. All the animals then announced they had to be on their way, leaving the couple intrigued that a horse, cow, and two hens could be such good company. Suddenly, answering a loud knock at the door, the couple is confronted by a farmer looking for his animals. He is obviously angry and does not believe his animals can talk and then is on his way. The rest of the day is normal until bedtime, when robbers confront the couple, but their efforts are foiled. This is a charming tale accompanied by vibrant illustrations. 2004, Marshall Cavendish, Ages 4 to 8.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalK-Gr 2-Talking animals, an angry farmer, two robbers, and a dim-witted sheriff all come knocking at the door of an old couple who haven't had this much company in years. Still, they remain unperturbed by the onslaught of strange, and sometimes hostile, visitors. While the story is occasionally witty and clever, the somewhat convoluted plot goes on too long. The humor is too subtle to sustain the narrative, and children may not wait around to hear the end. The illustrations are excellent, however. Chapman's bold, funny, expressive, oil paintings keep readers turning the pages. For a terrific story with clever, dry humor try Trinka Hakes Noble's Meanwhile Back at the Ranch (Dial, 1987).-Be Astengo, Alachua County Library, Gainesville, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
- Cavendish, Marshall Corporation
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 8.10(w) x 11.30(h) x 0.50(d)
- Age Range:
- 4 - 8 Years
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