Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin




Friday, July 13, 2012

Yee Haw It's Time for Fun

The team that brought readers, Hogwash, has reunited down on the farm.  It seems that once again a group of barnyard critters has decided they would much rather participate in Horseplay! (Little, Brown and Company).  Penned by Karma Wilson and illustrated by Jim McMullan this story spins with some similarities to the classic fairy tale, The Twelve Dancing Princesses.

Farmer is ready  to begin his day but he is puzzled by the lackluster and downright sleepy attitude of his horses.  All he hears from the corral is a loud chorus of zzzzzz.  To his utter shock and surprise, hiding that night to observe, no wolves are pestering his herd but their behavior borders on the absurd.

They romp and rollick playing games like children set loose on a summer evening.  The next day Farmer declares this is unacceptable, locking them in the barn that night. Of course, to his amazement, the next morning they are asleep on their feet. 

Hiding among the sheep that night, after locking them in, what should he see but---

The horses shuffled decks of cards,
and passed out poker chips.
They handed out some veggie trays,
and seven-layer dips!

Shouting out his dismay about there being absolutely NO more HORSEPLAY, he ties them up in separate stalls the following evening.  You guessed it.  The next morning they are snoozing on the job and Farmer is fit to be tied.

What's a Farmer to do?  When he catches them wide-eyed and bushy-tailed a third time, he's frazzled, he frets, and gives his beady-eyed stare...all night long; believing he has put these shenanigans to an end. But staying up without rest has consequences and the tables are turned on Farmer for after all; those horses want to play, play and play some more.

Karma Wilson's skillful use of rhyme and rhythm in four-line verse playfully portrays the comical antics of her horses.  Clearly she has a sense of the mischievous manner of equine personalities as well as the frustrations this may cause.  The failures of the farmer pitted against their adaptive pastimes is loaded with her keen sense of humor.

Who can resist those gleeful, cavorting horses on the cover as the baffled farmer watches?  Jim McMullan's watercolor visuals match pictures to word perfectly.  Horses playing Hide-and-Seek and Leapfrog never looked so funny.  Their large eyes following every move of the farmer, goofy grins plastered across their faces, will elicit giggles at every reading.  McMullan's visuals are so colorful and lively you can almost hear the horses clatter and chatter; whinnying the night away.

Horseplay! written by Karma Wilson with illustrations by Jim McMullan is another country cut-up that pairs nicely with its companion, Hogwash. As readers will discover apparently Farmer needs to learn the lesson about "all work and no play" and his horses are just the ones to teach him.  I can see using this title with other books about farm animals with minds of their own such as those in the series began with Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin with illustrations by Betsy Lewin.

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