Anyone who does preschool story times — or has a preschooler at home — knows there can never be enough farm animal books.
Brett Helquist’s Grumpy Goat makes Sunny Acres farm an unpleasant place to live. But then he comes across a little yellow flower in a field. As he begins caring for it, the other animals discover that Goat’s nature is sweetening. The story, initially a humorous one, evolves into a tale about the power of caring for others. Luscious acrylic and oil paintings convey both the shifting moods of the animals and a gorgeous landscape. (2–4 years, Harper/HarperCollins)
In Janet Morgan Stoeke’s The Loopy Coop Hens: Letting Go, the three hen friends of Loopy Coop Farm are sitting under an apple tree, minding their own business, when apples start to rain down upon them. Who is throwing them? Could it be a fox? The brave hens decide to investigate, climbing up a ladder to the top of the tree and discovering…gravity! With a minimum of words, Stoeke manages to invest her characters with a maximum of personality and her story with energy and humor; vivid illustrations focus readers’ attention on the action. (3–5 years, Dial)
When Mama Duck takes her ducklings for a walk in Eva Moore’s Lucky Ducklings (based on a true incident), she passes easily over the grate of a storm sewer, but one by one each of the five ducklings trailing behind her fall through. Three firefighters and a bystander with a pickup truck and cable work together to rescue the ducklings. Nancy Carpenter’s realistic charcoal illustrations show the drama as it unfolds from many different perspectives, including that of the ducklings in the storm sewer. Expert use of pattern and repetition is nicely echoed in individual illustrated vignettes. A good choice for reading aloud. (3–5 years, Orchard/Scholastic)
Edward Gibbs’s innovative “I Spy” book, I Spy on the Farm, has extra-tough boards and binding, and the corners are rounded, enticing preschoolers to reach out for it and experiment. Preschoolers first glimpse a farm animal through a die-cut hole on the right along with three simple clues to its identity; turn the page, and they see the revealed animal, whole. Gibbs’s expertly rendered digital art combines scribbly, brightly colored animals with more subdued backgrounds in clean cutout shapes, providing an energetic payoff when the animal is revealed. (2–4 years, Templar/Candlewick)
From the February 2013 issue of Notes from the Horn Book.