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Wise Acres
     

Wise Acres

by Deborah Zemke (Illustrator), George Shannon
 

There has never been a more bucolic farm than Wise Acres. There the sun always shines, the sky is always blue, and the breezes are always gentle. The inhabitants of the barnyard — an assortment of busy, caring, and totally off-the-wall farm animals — pass their days peacefully in song, dance, and storytelling. That is, until something goes wrong. Then the

Overview

There has never been a more bucolic farm than Wise Acres. There the sun always shines, the sky is always blue, and the breezes are always gentle. The inhabitants of the barnyard — an assortment of busy, caring, and totally off-the-wall farm animals — pass their days peacefully in song, dance, and storytelling. That is, until something goes wrong. Then the animals cannot resist rushing in to help each other — with hilarious results.
In three episodes noteworthy for their straight-faced humor, George Shannon creates a world of lovable, zany animals who establish a special brand of illogic that children will take to heart, while Deborah Zemke's action-packed portrayals of the Wise Acre antics are as fresh and original as the barnyard creatures themselves.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Zemke's (D Is for Doodle) watercolor-and-ink renderings of the barnyard denizens on Wise Acres farm are the main attraction in this trio of stories. Janet, a diving pig (her specialties include the "Bacon Buster") attempts to retrieve a submerged tambourine, lost during some enthusiastic shaking by Pearl the nanny goat; Vern, a ram who yearns for mail, receives individual letters of the alphabet from some well-meaning chickens; and a vain turkey named Ted decides to fight wrinkles with shoes made from pine cones: "It hurts so much to walk," he boasts to his friends, "I haven't thought of anything else since I put them on!" Although a goofy logic bubbles through the stories (when Doug the rooster remarks that the one envelope that Vern receives is empty, Vern replies, "No news is good news, as everyone knows"), Shannon's (Lizard's Song) writing is uncharacteristically static. Without a comic rhythm or arch point of view, the prose often feels like a well-intended joke gone flat. But Zemke's artwork, brimming with whimsy and wit, buoys the book. Her precise ink line becomes a kind of visual straight man to the shenanigans, while her characters exude the manic intensity and earnestness that are the marks of true silliness. Ages 4-8. (June) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2-This somewhat lengthy picture book presents three vignettes of life on Wise Acres farm, where barnyard animals experience misunderstandings, well-intentioned disasters, and the camaraderie of caring friends. Janet, a pig, demonstrates her dashing dives as she vainly tries to retrieve a submerged tambourine; Vern, a sheep, waits forlornly for mail until the animals conspire to send him an empty envelope ("No news is good news, as everyone knows"); and Ted, a turkey, discovers a unique cure that dispels his worries about his fading good looks. A group portrait on the front endpaper identifies the livestock, and each episode is introduced with a title and framed text. All three plots have mildly amusing twists that will tickle youngsters' funny bones, but the momentum is slowed by occasional extraneous details. The watercolor-and-ink artwork is bright and cheerful and effectively placed to illustrate and pace the action. The animals are expressive and mostly bipedal, and the pastoral setting lends a jolly innocence to their escapades. While not as hilarious and engaging as the antic adventures of Denys Cazet's Minnie and Moo, the resolutions to these critters' crises may generate just enough gentle chuckles to bemuse the storytime crowd.-Carol Ann Wilson, Westfield Memorial Library, NJ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Wise Acres is a seemingly idyllic farm with a traditional red barn and some untraditional animals who like to jog, sing, and play musical instruments in this longer work divided into three short chapters. The three stories involve the same set of animals trying to solve three problems: retrieving a missing tambourine from a pond, providing letters for the ram who waits by the mailbox, and getting the turkey to stop worrying about his wrinkles. The middle story is the funniest, but the punch line of "no news is good news" isn't one that will readily resonate with children, just like the play on words in the title. The other two stories try hard to be funny, succeeding with some humorous dialogue and situational comedy, but they both fall rather flat in their conclusions. It's also a little hard to tell the characters apart at first as they are just called by first names without any identification by species, though there is a labeled "family portrait" on the front endpaper. Zemke adds zest to the effort with her loose watercolor-and-ink illustrations, capturing the animal antics. (Picture book. 3-7)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593540418
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
04/01/2004
Pages:
40
Product dimensions:
10.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.37(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

Meet the Author

George Shannon was born in Kansas and grew up in Kentucky. He is the author of over twenty-five books for children, among them the Stories to Solve series, the beloved Lizard's Song, and the endearing Tippy-Toe Chick, Go! A former librarian and storytelle

Deborah Zemke was born in Michigan and attended York University in Toronto, Ontario. She has illustrated several children's books, including D is for Doodle for Blue Apple Books, and is creator of fonts as well as an artist. She lives with her family in Co

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