by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by Betsy Lewin
Simon & Schuster, 2000
anthropormorphism picture book
Caldecott Honor, 2001
Farmer Brown's got a problem: his cows can type. At first it's only the clicking-clacking that's the bother. But then,w ith their newly opened channel of communication, the cows request electric blankets. When Farmer Brown refuses to give them any, the cows go on strike -- and just like that, there's no milk. Soon the chickens want their own electric blankets too, and Farmer Brown must reach a decision. Duck, the neutral party, brings the negotiations between the cows and the farmer, and a solution is reached... with a twist.The cover:
The only thing I have against this choice of illustration is that the setting is unclear. The hay on the ground sets the scene in the barn, so what's with the vague lavender background? Otherwise, the bold brush outlines set up exactly the right expectations for the story.
The text's simplicity is used for full value here. Short sentences are balanced with hefty words (the word "ultimatum" actually makes an appearance) for maximum punch, while the clear-cut diction lets the humour speak for itself. The repetitive use of "click, clack, moo" is almost giggle-inducing on its own, and "click, clack, quack" has both a delightful rhyme and excellent consonance and alliteration.
A note from the illustrator exaplins how the illustrations were rendered -- basically, Betsy Lewin drew the scenes over and over on paper before outlining and colouring in the best of them. The lush, somehow bliocky paintings underscore the text and the humour between the lines effectively, and the illustration equivalent of an epilogue answers the ingenious twist of an ending.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5