Lively illustrations stand out in this rustic tale.
Unkempt Farmer Brown takes his tractor on a trip into town, and along the way he meets various animals frolicking in singular sartorial splendor. After each animal sings a little ditty about how much it loves its item of clothing, Farmer Brown invites them, Mr. Gumpy–like, to “[h]op aboard.” This template is repeated on each spread with a different animal and a different article of clothing (the calico cat wears a hat, the turtledoves wear gloves, and so on), and by the end, the tractor is filled and they’ve all arrived in town. There, the animals urge Farmer Brown to go get himself some new clothes, and after he does, he sings his own song about how much he loves his new outfit. Because most of the spreads are nearly identical in narrative, with only the rhyming animal-and-clothing pairs changing, the overall effect is a stale storyline that dampens rather than builds tension. Mr. Gumpy’s punt tips over, unlike this tractor. The illustrations, by contrast, are executed with a lively line and cheerful watercolor washes that entertain the eye. While they try their best to lift up the flat storyline, they do not succeed. The endpapers, in a somber, unrelieved dark blue, do nothing to add story interest.
A repetitive picture book that struggles to be interesting. (Picture book. 2-5)