Buffaloes are always funny, which makes them unlikely subjects for a self-help book.
When a buffalo hits a drum, the drum goes SCASH! It’s such an endearing sound that the buffalo turns cross-eyed with glee. (Jennewein’s soft-edged drawings of a goggle-eyed buffalo are hilarious.) Still, some people may be nervous about teaching their buffalo to play the drums, so Vernick has provided an instruction manual. Very reluctant buffaloes may need the drumsticks handed to them or even tied to their hooves with yarn. They may need cheering on. Some readers might suspect that this is a metaphor for child-rearing, and a few may even think the book is aimed at parents. The Electric Company had Paul the gorilla for comic relief. This book has a buffalo, a xylophone, juggling and heart-shaped sunglasses, and yet it still feels educational. Sample lines: “Don’t let your buffalo get frustrated! Cheer him on! Encourage him!” At times, this instruction manual feels more like, well, an instruction manual than a gag.Buffaloes may be funny, but they are not, it turns out, the most inspiring educators, and readers may long for a few more SCASHes and TATTA TAT TATs. (Picture book. 4-8)