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Barnyard Banter [Board Book]


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About the Author

Denise Fleming has written and illustrated many children's books, including In the Tall, Tall Grass, Shout! Shout It Out!, and Sleepy, Oh So Sleepy. She won a Caldecott Honor for In the Small, Small Pond. Denise published her first painting in the third grade, when she started taking classes at the Toledo Museum of Art and one of her paintings was chosen to be the cover of a teacher's magazine. She now works primarily with paper, by pouring colored paper pulp through hand-cut stencils. She lives in Toledo, Ohio.


Fleming's latest picture book pays a joyful, noisy visit to the farm. A bouncy, rhyming text places various animals in their natural surroundings and gives voice to the sounds they make, e.g., ``Hens in the henhouse, cluck, cluck, cluck / Pigs in the wallow, muck, muck, muck.'' In a mostly visual--though gratuitous--subplot, a lone white goose accompanies the reader from page to page, and a textual aside occasionally asks, ``But where's Goose?'' Fleming's ( In the Small, Small Pond ) by now familiar pulp-painting style continues to evolve. Coffee grounds, oats and burlap add texture and depth to her zesty, full-bodied color-scheme, while a thick black typeface works well as a design element, scattering onomatopoeic words at different angles across the pages. The penultimate spread, which features a cacophony of text and hardly any figures, successfully sums up the spirit of the proceedings. In some cases, the in-your-face perspectives may need a bit of clarification for the youngest readers, but the volume as a whole delivers a hefty helping of rowdy fun. Ages 2-6. (Apr.)

PreS-Gr 1-Roosters, cows, crows, hens, kittens, etc., noisly go about their barnyard business except for Goose, who silently flits through each scene chasing an elusive butterfly. She finally makes herself heard on the last double-page spread. Strong rhythm and rhyme, plus fun onomatopoeic animal sounds, demand reading aloud. But even more delightful than the engaging text are Fleming's spectacular illustrations, created by pouring cotton pulp through hand-cut stencils. They create realistically textured, bold, bright settings for the whimsical critters to romp through. Intimate perspectives (tucked in the hay loft at kitten's-eye level, wallowing with mud-mucking pigs), reminiscent of In the Tall, Tall Grass (Holt, 1991), make Barnyard Banter one more plus to Fleming's already impressive collection.-Claudia Cooper, Ft. Stockton Independent School District, TX

"Lush colors, startled, wide-eyed animals, and bold black print make each page jump with activity." --Kirkus Reviews, pointer

"Strong rhythm and rhyme, plus fun onomatopoeic animal sounds demand reading aloud." --School Library Journal, starred review

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