A menagerie finds whimsical fun in this illustrated children’s book.
Lavender Hill Farm is quite the happening place, full of eccentric animals and tall tales. From Dooley the Dog and Marcel the Duck to Chickie Mae and Madam Goose, all the occupants of the farm have their own quirky stories to tell. Chickie Mae learns that trying something new won’t kill a chicken when Marcel the Duck brings a jar of olives to the farm and she finally tastes one. Marcel (a very special French duck who’s a pet and allowed in the house) wants to be a chef, and somehow, he makes his very own pizza (but he does need some help). A persuasive pig talks his way into staying at the farmhouse (“I am handsome and charming with a winning smile, and I am very well spoken. I can answer your doorbell”). Madam Goose, bent on planting turnip seeds, experiences a series of misadventures before she’s able to reap what she’s sowed. When it’s harvest time, Madam Goose asks Dooley the Dog to dig up the turnips (“I’m a beagle and that’s what we do. We dig”). Every animal on the farm is unique, which means that all of the stories in the collection are one of a kind as well. Otto (A House for Mr. Mouse, 2014) displays a wonderful knack for the offbeat, and kids should love the imaginative tales in the volume. It’s a little bit Charlotte’s Web, a little bit The Wizard of Oz, and all totally clever. Children should easily find an animal to identify with, be it stubborn Chickie Mae and her single olive or Marcel and his determination to become a chef. Every story comes to a satisfactory ending, which should teach youngsters a series of important lessons. Even adults shouldn’t tire of reading the book as a bedtime story—the tales are varied and smart enough for grown-ups, too. DeLind’s cutout illustrations are also lovely—the work could use even more of them scattered throughout the stories. Another appealing aspect of the book: readers can peruse as much or as little as they like—one tale for a quick waiting-room distraction or perhaps two (or even three) for bedtime. The kids will likely clamor for more.
An amusing and fantastical look at barnyard goings-on.