Friday, September 14, 2007

Click, Clack, Moo Cows That Type (Genre: Picture Books)

Bibliographic Data
Author: Doreen Cronin
Illustrator: Betsy Lewin
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
Publication Date: February 2000
ISBN: 9780689832130

Plot Summary
Farmer Brown throws out his typewriter only to hear “click, clack, moo” all day long as his cows and other farm animals begin to make outrageous demands in exchange for their services.

Critical Analysis
This book cracks me up every time I read it. My children have it on their shelf and in animated form courtesy of Scholastic videos DVD collection. The illustrations really bring the farm animals to life and make it seem possible that cows could type on a typewriter. This book is the first in a long series of books involving the same mischievous farm animals and the easy foiled and frustrated Farmer Brown.

Review Excerpts
Children's Literature
"Cows that type? Impossible!" That's what Farmer Brown thinks when he first hears the "click, clack" from the barn, but then he reads the note the cows write him. All they want is electric blankets for the cold barn. When he refuses, they go on strike. What's worse for the farmer is that the strike spreads to the cold hens as well. Duck finally negotiates a compromise. Unfortunately for Farmer Brown, the ducks have learned from all this, leaving us with a smile at the ending. This broadly humorous nonsense finds an appropriately bold, almost slapdash visual counterpart in Lewin's illustrations. Thick, brushed black lines define the characters and farm environment, while washes of color help emphasize gestures and evoke emotions, as when the red door symbolizes the farmer's rage. Great slapstick also suggests thoughts on animal rights.

Esmé Raji Codell - Bookbag Magazine
This hilarious story with a surprise ending is a great tribute to fair play and introduces the power of communication in a way that even the youngest listener will enjoy.

From Publishers Weekly
Plucky barnyard denizens unite to improve their working conditions in this hilarious debut picture book from Cronin (appropriately enough, an attorney). Farmer Brown is dumbfounded when his cows discover an old typewriter in the barn and begin experimenting ("All day long he hears click, clack, moo. Click, clack, moo. Clickety clack moo"). Things really get out of hand when the cows began airing their grievances. Lewin (Araminta's Paint Box) conveys the fellow's shock as he reads: "Dear Farmer Brown, The barn is very cold at night. We'd like some electric blankets. Sincerely, The Cows." When Farmer Brown denies the cows' request, the bovine organizers go on strike. Through the use of the man's shadow, Lewin communicates his rage: the straw in his hat creates the appearance of his hair on end. With help from a neutral duck mediator, the exasperated Farmer Brown finally makes concessions. But, much to his dismay, the cows are not the only creatures that can type. Cronin humorously turns the tables on conventional barnyard dynamics; Lewin's bold, loose-lined watercolors set a light and easygoing mood that matches Farmer Brown's very funny predicament. Kids and underdogs everywhere will cheer for the clever critters that calmly and politely stand up for their rights, while their human caretaker becomes more and more unglued. Ages 3-7. (Feb.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Use this book to begin a unit on letter writing and communication to improve conditions or to protest events. This ties in well with a civics lesson in citizenship and the right to peaceably assemble in social studies.

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