E-I-E-I-O…a list of five tales from the farm yard

barnyard banter cover imageBarnyard Banter, written and illustrated by Denise Fleming

Cows in the pasture, moo, moo, moo
Roosters in the barnyard, cock-a-doodle doo…

Straight out of the gate, this noisy, cheerful barnyard story sets our toes a-tappin’ with its wonderful rhythms, its boisterous animals, its irresistable invitation to join in with the moo-ing, clucking, braying and shrieking.

This is one rowdy, farm-ful of animals, yet each sticks to her proper pen — except for Goose. Silly goose is racing and ducking and craning her neck in hot pursuit of a dancing, yellow, butterfly. If you look carefully, you can spot the two of them on barnyard banter illustration denise flemingevery page. Will she catch it? Sounding off, and a merry chase — that’s what this book is all about.

Accenting the cacophony of sounds are Denise Flemings marvelous, colorful illustrations. Egg-yolk yellows and tomato reds, lively spring greens and iridescent bluesy-purples explode from the pages. Massive cows and proud peacocks, springing frogs and curious kittens brim with energy. The lovely spattery look in the illustrations comes from “pouring colored cotton pulp through hand-cut stencils.” I can’t envision this process, but the pages are loaded with glorious happiness.

Great fun for the youngest of listeners who will very quickly memorize this and happily join in with all the animal sounds.

farm cover imageFarm, written and illustrated by Elisha Cooper

Turning the volume way, way down, taking time to stand in the middle of vast fields with a long, flat horizon, noticing the colors and textures of the land, the ordinary tasks of the farmer, the idiosyncracies of the animals…that’s the sublime feel of Elisha Cooper’s beautiful book.

Beginning in spring, Cooper walks us through the tilling and planting, the gradual warming of the days, the greening of the fields,and the harvesting. He introduces us to very particular animals and their funny farm illustration elisha cooperpersonalities;  he describes interesting, realistic farm tasks;  he observes unusual aspects of farm life and beauty that many books for this age range overlook.

Paired with his lovely, descriptive writing are Cooper’s beautiful watercolor and pencil illustrations. So gorgeous!  Big, two-page spreads display the wide-open, long-horizon landscapes pouring out restfulness, while a myriad smaller illustrations pull us up close to observe tractors and seeds, pheasants and farm dogs. And just take a look at that incredibly handsome rooster on the cover! It’s framable.

What I love about this book is how it beckons us to stand still and look. To be quiet and notice. A bit reminiscent in personality to the Provenson’s work on farm seasons, but modernized with cell phones in the tractors. I recommend this as an absorbing read for ages 5 and up.

life size farm cover imageLife-Size Farm, by Teruyuki Komiya

Coming to us from Japan, this is part of a series of extra-large books that bring us face to face with animals in full-color photographs, at actual life size!

How is this possible? Well, you don’t get the whole cow. But…you do get a four-page fold-out of just her head, so you can get a true feel for how

These Shanghai cows are a tad more than life size.

These Shanghai cows are a tad more than life size.

enormous she is, especially compared to the tiny chick on the next page! How big is a cow’s nose, compared to your hand?

These animals are from a farm exhibit at the Ueno Zoo in Tokyo, and they include some critters we Americans would not normally associate with a farm, such as a mara ( do you know what that is?) and a ferret. That makes it all the more fun, though, and the Old McDonald bunch are there as well, from sheep to llamas, pigs to goats. 20 animals in all.

Each animal comes with a side bar of information listing the animal’s name, age, and scientific name. There are a few questions that help us look more carefully at the animal and observe interesting things about it. For instance, did you look closely at the shape of the goat’s pupil? It’s oval, like a jellybean. Do you know its special purpose? This book will tell you. There are also a few juicy facts about each species, illustrated in little comic squares.

Several animals are soooo big, they require fold-out pages to encompass just their heads. That’s exciting! Great fun for preschoolers and up. There are others in the series featuring zoo animals, if you enjoy this one.

the piggy in the puddle cover imageThe Piggy in the Puddle, by Charlotte Pomerantz, pictures by James Marshall

See the piggy,
See the puddle,
See the muddy little puddle.
See the piggy in the middle
Of the muddly little puddle.

Get your mouth in gear for the rapid, tongue-twisting nonsense in this delightful, silly story! It starts out running, and doesn’t let up until the final, merry syllable.

It seems there’s a young pig who simply loves to dawdle and diddle in the mud. the piggy in the puddle illus. james marshall 001Her fuddy-duddy father wants her out of there and all squeaky clean, but that little one simply won’t come out. Her mother cajoles her, her brother importunes her, but nope. She’s not in the mood for soap.

What ever will they do? They are flumoxed, until a most surprising idea occurs to Mother!

Written in 1974, this enormously jolly book is a family favorite of ours. The irresistable,  rhythmic, verse is paired with illustrations by the brilliant James Marshall. What could be better? His comical portraits of this portly bunch, their ridiculous apparel, facial expressions, and merriment are fetching and funny.

Read this to children as young as 3, or let early readers have a blast with all these diddle-daddle, mooshy-squooshy words themselves.

cows to the rescue cover imageCows to the Rescue, written and illustrated by John Himmelman

More silliness ahead!

It’s county fair time and Farmer Greenstalk has piled his whole family in the station wagon, loaded a pile of pigs in the trailer, and is ready for a jimdandy day.

But, consarn it all, the car won’t start.

Not to fear! Cows to the rescue!! Those heroic bovines scoop up kids, pigs, and all, thunder down the dusty road, and deliver everyone to the fair in short order. Excellent.

This is the running theme of the day, of course. Every time one of the cows to the rescue illustration john himmelman 001Greenstalks runs into a spot of trouble at the fair, those swell cows come to the rescue. So handy.

Himmelman’s watercolor illustrations of those gallant cows, earnestly rushing, kindly tutoring, daintily scrubbing, nervously riding the Ferris Wheel, are enormous fun. You will fall in love with this herd of cattle in very short order.

Great humor, a wonderful chance to shout all together “Cows to the rescue!”, (this is perhaps not a bedtime story!)and a true day brightener of a tale. Preschoolers and up will have their funny-bones tickled with this one. There are other titles in this same vein by Himmelman, so look for those as well.

Here are Amazon links to this fine crop of  books:
Barnyard Banter
Life-Size Farm
The Piggy in the Puddle (Reading Rainbow Books)
Cows to the Rescue