Melodramatic Aussie narration and broadly comical art milk this tale of cricket’s origins Down Under for all it’s worth.
It all begins when a Jersey cow named Jenny Bramble Rose, getting a cricket up her nose, sneezes out a ball of cud that one pasture mate whacks with a willow stick and another catches in her hat after a heroic gallop (“HOWZAT?”). This proves so exciting that the other cattle all want to play. They get together to set rules, take team pictures, appoint a goat as referee and play for five days to a (voluntary) draw before a riveted crowd of farm animals. Most of the hilariously dodgy-looking creatures in Redlich’s rustic cartoons squawk, moo, hop, bleat, grimace, cheer, lay an egg or poop when tapped. Viewers can drag the bat and ball, move scenes along at will (using either arrows or the thumbnail index or just by tapping screens) and have any words in the rhymed text re-pronounced with a touch. There is an autoplay option but no silent mode. Along with that sticky wicket, children won’t come away with more than a vague notion of how cricket is actually played. Still, the closing stanza’s “From that day on the game became a ritual sort of test, / Of having fun but playing fair and giving it your best” is applicable to any sport.
Udderly engaging, if an innings short of a finished match. (iPad storybook app. 6-8)