For some individuals it's an art form perfected over every second of their lives. They are literally a catalogue of seemingly infinite ideas. These beings are schemers and dreamers, daring to imagine and do. They never stop thinking outside the box.
If you are a cow with this marvelous mindset and your best buddy is a duck, it's a guarantee the results will not be as expected. Meeting Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers in Moo Moo & Mr. Quackers present Moo Moo in a Tutu (Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, April 25, 2017) was a reading adventure down a path filled with laughter. The companions have returned in Moo Moo & Mr. Quackers present What's Cooking, Moo Moo? (Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, April 3, 2018). Author illustrator Tim Miller serves readers a memorable meal with heaping helpings of humor and equal measures of friendship.
Mr. Quackers---I just thought
of my best idea ever!
What is it this time,
Assuring her friend this latest pursuit will mean more quality time for them together, Moo Moo grabs Mr. Quackers and heads out the door. In a blink of an eye, the duo is standing in front of a diner with a large sign reading
MOO MOO &
To say Mr. Quackers is stunned would be an understatement.
He's even more flabbergasted when Moo Moo reveals the source of funding for this new endeavor. Moo Moo encourages him with promises of fun times ten. A crowd gathers outside the door as Moo Moo cuts the ribbon at the grand opening. It's a stampede to get inside.
As a waiter Mr. Quackers' techniques are slightly lacking. Filling a water glass with a hose is not the usual practice. Having a single item, the Moo Moo Special, on the menu puts a lot of pressure on Chef Moo Moo. When the contents of this gourmet delight are disclosed, expect to burst out laughing. When it's served to the customers you won't be able to stop your giggles and grins.
Ever the friend, Mr. Quackers steps forward to offer assistance by cooking his
top secret recipe.
When the patrons discover the signature ingredient, they can't leave the restaurant fast enough. It's a stampede in the other direction. With their enterprise in food services at a close, the pals pause to reflect. In this instant Moo Moo gets another brainstorm. How are your yodeling skills?
With the first words out of her mouth, Moo Moo sets the stage for multiple hilarious scenarios. Told entirely in dialogue, this story penned by Tim Miller is a series of back and forth bantering between two characters with opposite expectations. Therein lies the comedy. Hopefully the name of Mr. Quackers'
will not be overlooked by readers. (The innuendo is superb, Mr. Miller.) Here is a portion of dialogue.
You know how you wish
we could spend more
quality time together?
Did I really say that?
Well, I figured out
the perfect way to make
your dream come true!
You mean we're
going on a vacation?
Using a palette similar to the first title, inside and outside their shared apartment, and infused with splashes of full color, we enter the world of this particular cow and her friend, a duck. Cool colors, in blues and purple are complemented with shades of yellow and Moo Moo's pink. We know by looking at the front of the dust jacket, Moo Moo is blissful about her cooking but Mr. Quackers is decidedly apprehensive. The soft star in the background gives this story the feel of a production we are about to experience.
To the left, on the back of the dust jacket, in a framed image hanging on the wall, Moo Moo is looking at Mr. Quackers seated on a stool in front of an easel. Paintbrush in hand Mr. Quackers is recreating Moo Moo in her favorite pose. The book case will elicit gasps from readers. It is a copy of The Daily Quack. It features, on the right, an article with quotes, about the restaurant opening. The four entries in the Classifieds on the left are huge hints of what is to come and one makes reference to the first book. I dare you not to laugh reading this.
The opening and closing endpapers on the left and right are framed portraits of Mr. Quackers and Moo Moo done in two hues of blue. Both are wearing aprons and chef hats. Beneath the text on the title page Moo Moo at the stove flips food into the air. It lands on Mr. Quackers' head. The verso and dedication pages have funny illustrations of merry Moo Moo and hesitant Mr. Quackers.
Rendered using brush and ink and digital hocus-pocus the illustrations span two pages, single pages and several are grouped on a single page. These variances provide perfect comedic pacing. Most of them are framed in a heavy black line and white space.
What Tim Miller is able to accomplish with two dots for eyes and the mouths on all the characters is fabulous. As you turn the pages your focus first falls on Mr. Quackers and Moo Moo. You then find yourself noticing all the little details included; the sign on the taxi cab, the items in apartment windows, the guy reading while walking his dog, the decor and table settings inside the diner, ingredient labels, and the type of business located next to the diner.
One of my many favorite images is the lower illustration on a page with two horizontal visuals. Moo Moo and Mr. Quackers, wearing their restaurant attire, are lying flat on their backs. Mr. Quackers' body and feet are extended into the air. Ever the optimist Moo Moo utters
I told you this was
going to be fun.
And Mr. Quackers replies
Is that what you call it?
This comedic image is a result of the stampede to get inside the restaurant. It clearly delineates the two personalities and their enduring relationship.
Readers sincerely enjoy seeing the return of characters we love in a companion title with a continuation of their escapades. Moo Moo & Mr. Quackers present What's Cooking, Moo Moo? written and illustrated by Tim Miller brings much shared joy to all of us. Readers will want to read this title repeatedly plus I am willing to bet the first book will be added to the mix. There is no better concoction than comedy and Tim Miller stirs up the best. You'll be more than ready to include this title in your professional and personal collections.
To learn more about Tim Miller and his other work, please follow the link attached to his name to access his website. Tim maintains a blog here. At the publisher's website you can get a peek inside the book. There is also a link to an activity guide. The cover for this book is revealed on Watch. Connect. Read. the blog of Scholastic's Ambassador of School Libraries, John Schumacher. I believe you will enjoy their conversation. Tim is featured on KidLit TV's Ready, Set, Draw! On May 9, 2017 Tim visits Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast to chat with author, reviewer and blogger Julie Danielson. There is loads of artwork to see. He also stops by Let's Talk Picture Books on September 19, 2017. Tim is one of The New York Times featured artists who make live art videos. He was showcased on January 3, 2018.