Picture Books – Thump, Quack, Moo

Poor Farmer Brown. For several books now, he has been beset with nothing but trouble from that pesky Duck and Duck’s generally willing accomplices on the farmyard. This fall, Farmer Brown is determined that things will change. He is taking control, whether it means bribing the chickens and cows or threatening Duck with consequences, he is steadfast in his plans to create a fantastic corn maze, shaped like the Statue of Liberty. Of course Duck may be forced to (gasp!) do a little work, but he’s the same irrepressible Duck as ever, and you can be sure that he will get the last word before all is said and done.

I loved the ways in which Farmer Brown enlisted all of the farm animals:

“The chickens did not want to help.
“I’ll let you use my hammers,” said Farmer Brown.
The chickens are now building the fence through the corn field. The chickens are excited. “

I am a proud backyard poultry enthusiast, and I am here to tell you that my chickens (particularly the white leghorns, which these chickens may very well be) would be downright thrilled to be given hammers. That is if, you know, they had opposable thumbs. I was particularly amused to note that the fence the chickens build is largely made up of chicken wire.

Here in Massachusetts, I have often seen corn mazes on the news during the harvest season, though I’ve never been to one myself. I do wonder how many young children will be familiar with the concept of a corn maze. I don’t think it will matter much even if they have no idea what it is that Farmer Brown and Duck are attempting to create, as the humor of the story is largely derived from Farmer Brown’s careful planning and Duck’s gleeful attempts to subvert the work to his own ends. To that end, the definition of a corn maze is less important than understanding that Farmer Brown wants it to look like a specific shape, and Duck has impudently changed that.

As with all of the Duck books written Doreen Cronin and illustrated by Betsy Lewin, Thump, Quack, Moo is a delight, and will surely be eagerly gobbled up by children begging to hear it read “just one more time!”

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